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Tornadoes confirmed, damage reported in Southwest Ohio

A man wearing jeans, a dark grey coat, a red winter hat and glasses points to a field of wooden and metal debris behind him. Rows of pine trees extend beyond the debris.
Samantha Sommer
Ben Young, owner of Carl & Dorothy Young's Christmas Tree Farm and HR director at Young's Jersey Dairy, points to the remaining pieces of a pole barn that held equipment. A suspected tornado early Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, lifted the barn out of the ground and scattered debris over 150 to 200 yards. About 100 Christmas trees were also damaged. Ben Young said no people or animals were injured.

At least two tornadoes have been confirmed in Southwest Ohio on Wednesday, Feb. 28, that caused significant damage, especially in Clark County.

Here's what we know right now:

  • Several homes and silos were destroyed in Clark County, including on state Route 41, and New Love and Ridge roads.
  • Three people there were trapped in the basement of their home and were taken to a nearby hospital to treat their injuries. No other injuries or fatalities were reported.
  • About 800 residents were without power as of 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to AES and First Energy.
  • Powerful straight line winds shifted junk parts outside the Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Two historic World War II hangars were damaged, twisting external doors and peeling layers off the outer walls.
  • The Airway Shopping Center in Riverside also took a hit.
  • The National Weather Service will continue to investigate how fast the tornadoes were likely going, as well as if they continued into Madison County. Several hangars were damaged at the Madison County Airport
A white wooden fence alongside a road is damaged, with pieces of metal strewn about and grey silos in the background are damaged.
Adriana Martinez-Smiley
A farm on state Route 41 in Clark County sustained heavy damage on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024, after an EF-2 tornado struck about 5 a.m.

Springfield Township Fire Department responded to alerts of collapsed buildings about 5 a.m., according to Fire Chief Dave Nangle.

The southeastern portion of the township took the biggest hit, Nangle said.

“We had multiple people trying to gain access to the area. I don't know if it was to try to get to family, friends or just out seeing the damage,” Nangle said. ”We had a big traffic concern at first. But we were able to shut that (area) down with the (Clark County) Sheriff's Office and the city police were able to block roads for us until we could get in and start assessing the damage to see what we needed to keep closed or open back up.”

Due to fallen power lines on roads, most of the department’s rescue efforts were done on foot, he said.

Three people were reportedly trapped in the basement of their home and were taken to a nearby hospital to treat their injuries. No other injuries or fatalities were reported.

The American Red Cross has offered residents food and water.

As of 3 p.m Wednesday, he said the Clark County Emergency Management Agency was still trying to confirm the number of structures that were damaged.

A large pile of rumble sits next to a two-lane road. The sky is covered with grey clouds.
Adriana Martinez-Smiley
A large pile of rumble sits along Ride Road in Clark County after an EF-2 tornado struck about 5 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024.

A pole barn that held equipment was destroyed at Carl & Dorothy Young's Christmas Tree Farm. It appears it was lifted right out of the ground, said Ben Young, owner of tree farm and HR director at Young's Jersey Dairy.

Crumpled pieces of the barn were scattered debris over 150 to 200 yards of the tree farm.

A neighbor called Young to tell him his barn was damaged.

"I thought, 'Oh, no, the door blew off,'" he said. "But I got down here and found out the entire barn blew away."

The barn was built in 2020. They saved the equipment, which included tractors, golf carts and harvesting equipment. About 100 Christmas trees — out of 26,000 — were also damaged.

"But thankfully, all the cows are OK," Young said.

The storm also uprooted and snapped some massive white pines across U.S. 68 from the tree farm. Young estimated that the trees were at least 50 years old.

A massive rootball of a tree is exposed amid several other trees
Samantha Sommer
Two large white pines estimated as at least 50 years old were uprooted during the storm on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2004, at a home on U.S. 68 right on the border of Clark and Greene counties.

Damage also has been reported at the Airway Shopping Center in Riverside.

Clark County deputies asked people to avoid the state Route 41 area due to damage and downed power lines.

A shelter for those displaced by the storms is at the Madison Township Hall at 35 South Chillicothe Street in South Charleston in Clark County.

Updated: February 28, 2024 at 12:00 PM EST
This is a breaking news story that will be updated throughout the day. Updates include confirmation of at least two tornadoes, details of damage throughout the area and at least three injuries reported in Clark County.
A chance meeting with a volunteer in a college computer lab in 1987 brought Mike to WYSO. He started filling in for various music shows, and performed various production, news, and on-air activities during the late 1980s and 90s, spinning vinyl and cutting tape before the digital evolution.
Adriana Martinez-Smiley (she/they) is the Environment and Indigenous Affairs Reporter for WYSO. They grew up in Hamilton, Ohio and graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in June 2023. Before joining WYSO, her work has been featured in NHPR, WBEZ and WTTW.

Email: amartinez-smiley@wyso.org
Cell phone: 937-342-2905
Samantha Sommer is the news director for WYSO, where she leads a team of award-winning reporters and anchors and collaborates with NPR stations across Ohio. She joined the station in May 2022 after more than 20 years with Cox Enterprises, most recently as managing editor for investigations for the Dayton Daily News. Samantha also has served as the editor of the Springfield News-Sun, and Springfield bureau chief for WHIO TV and WHIO Radio. She is a Detroit native and a graduate of Northwestern University. Samantha is married with two adult stepchildren and a 4-year-old son.
Kathryn Mobley is an award-winning broadcast journalist, crafting stories for more than 30 years. She’s reported and produced for TV, NPR affiliate and for the web. Mobley also contributes to several area community groups. She sings tenor with World House Choir (Yellow Springs), she’s a board member of the Beavercreek Community Theatre and volunteers with two community television operations, DATV (Dayton) and MVCC (Centerville).

Email: kmobley@wyso.org
Cell phone: (937) 952-9924