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Xenia Tornado 39 Years Ago

National Weather Service

Thirty-nine years ago - April 3, 1974 - A “Super outbreak” of storms produced 148 tornadoes within a 24-hour period.  It’s reported that during the height of activity, 15 tornadoes were on the ground simultaneously.  Nationwide, 315 people were killed, and well over 5000 were injured in 13 states, and Canada in which tornadoes occurred.

The Tornado that struck Xenia – heard here in this audio – was an F5 with a path of destruction over 32 miles long.  It touched down at 4:30 PM nine miles southwest of Xenia and entered the city about ten minutes later.

More than 1,400 buildings, including 1,200 homes - 300 in the Arrowhead subdivision - were damaged, or completely destoyed.  Nine churches, and most of the city’s schools were hit. Luckily, the storm struck about an hour after classes had been dismissed. A train passing through the city was also caught by the tornado and 7 of its cars were blown over, blocking of Main Street.

WYSO Resource Board member and Director of the Green County Library, Karl Colon says the event was a transformative one for the city of Xenia.

Colon says, "You had to rethink the whole idea of what the town was and what the town was to become, in order to even be able to get back on your feet.  It took a lot of vision; it took a lot of commitment from the community.  They never gave up on their belief in their hometown and they brought it back to life.

Not an easy task considering about half of the city was destroyed.  39 years later, the 1974 Xenia tornado still ranks as one of the nation’s largest natural disasters.

Audio of the 1974 Xenia Tornado was used with kind permission from www.xeniatornado.com.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.
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