Location: Xenia, Greene, Ohio, United States
Surnames/tags: Xenia_Ohio tornado
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The Super Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974
On April 3, 1974 an F-5 tornado tore through the heart of Xenia, killing 33 people and injuring more than 1,300 others. It bulldozed a path more than a half-mile wide, destroying or damaging more than 1,400 buildings, including 1,200 homes, dozens of businesses, 10 churches, and several schools. By the time it lifted into the sky near Cedarville, it left behind more than $100 million of damage in Greene County.
The Xenia tornado was part of a super outbreak, when 148 twisters swept across several states, killing 335 people in a 16-hour period on April 3-4, 1974. It still ranks as one of the largest natural disasters in American history, with Xenia the hardest hit community.
The Xenia subdivision of “Arrowhead” was especially hard-hit, the tornado leaving it in ruins. The 4-year-old subdivision on the city’s southwest side lost more than 300 homes, many on concrete slabs with no basements.
Greene Memorial Hospital in northeast Xenia narrowly escaped the tornado’s wrath, but lost its power and telephone service and its water quality was suspect. About 500 people were treated there in the first 24 hours, 34 of them being admitted with a number transferred to hospitals in nearby Dayton for treatment.
Xenia Tornado of 1974 April 19, 2011 Article written by Phillip Elam Xenia had no tornado sirens back then, but many were installed after, which helped alert residents to the September 2000 F4 tornado that hit the city, following a parallel path just north of the 1974 tornado path.
Tornado Tape Recording
Tornado Victims Memorial Plaque Xenia, Greene County, Ohio, USA https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12675/xenia_ohio_tornado_victims_memorial
A Xenia Students story- by Terry Hunter Xenia, Ohio U.S.A. April 3rd, 1974 It was a weird day. In the morning when I went to school, the sky was calm, no sign of any wind or clouds. As the day went on, I can remember I had already been in five of my classes. It was now sixth period. The sun shone brightly and blinded my vision. Thin clouds began to cover the sky. It began to rain softly, then very hard! The streets were running over with water, as if God was giving our town it's last sip The bell rang and I noticed it was beginning to sleet. I struggled to get through the crowd in order to get to my next class on time. I went into the room and looked outside. It was hailing! It was hailing so hard that you could hear it pounding upon the ground. It wasn't long before school was dismissed and on the way home I walked through a misty haze. I walked into the house. Mom told me that had left word for me to clean up the attic. I had thrown the Christmas boxes up in it quite lazily. I wouldn't have done that if I had it to do over, but I have no attic to clean up now . When I came down from the attic, tornado watches were being issued on the radio our county and many others. Either I told Mom or she told me (It's hard to remember) not to go back up until the watch was over or rather cleared (never thinking of what was to come). I got a glass of orange juice and sat down at the dining room table. I said to Mom, "A tornado has never hit Xenia before" and she said, "There's always a first time for everything". I later found out that Xenia had been hit before, but at the time I didn't know that. I turned around and looked out the back door. I saw it forming, a cluster of about six to eight tiny funnels. They were all high in the sky swirling furiously above the Arrowhead development. I said, "Oh my God! I see one! Come here quick! Hurry! Look! She said, "Oh come on Terry! That isn't funny. Don't kid around like that. That's nothing to joke about". She came to the back door thinking I was joking or something. I couldn't understand why she thought I was fooling. I guess it's just something that's unbelievable, and no one can believe that such a thing would ever happen to them. That's what I thought before, but not anymore. I can believe! She called my sister, Tammy into the room. We were all standing at the back door panicking. Mom blurted out, "We better get out of this room or we will be cut to pieces". We had a wall of 12" square mirror tiles. That is if it were to hit, not really thinking it would. We went to the master bedroom in a rage not knowing what to do. We went to the bedroom window and stood there watching it form for about five to ten minutes. It first formed into a very skinny funnel, somewhat like the familiar pictures you often see. It wasn't touching the surrounding area yet. It was splitting up into little funnels, and then going back into the skinny familiar tornado. Tammy said, "Oh, it's not coming this way you guys. I've never seen anything like it!" But I knew it was coming toward our house because of the way the wind current was blowing. I truly was terrified! It was something I had never seen before and never really thought much about, but it was a different story now. It was coming and there was no way of avoiding it. Our house was in it's path. We finally saw it drill down onto the Windsor park development a development that was connected to ours. It looked like birds were being pulled into it. It was really wood and debris flying about at 300mph. The funnel wasn't a funnel anymore. It was huge! Gigantic, if the word is alright or proper to use. We lived in front of Warner Junior High School. There was a field in between Warner and Arrowood Elementary School. It was swooping it's way across the field tearing up the sidewalk and pavement, throwing wood, electrical and every kind of wiring that you can imagine. Roof tops, telephone poles and just everything! We were told (previously) by a TV repair man to get in the master bedroom by or under some heavy furniture. This tornado wasn't a regular one. it destroyed tall heavy buildings, concrete, brick, frame shacks, mansions, huge trees, everything, complete devastation! We huddled up against the side of the bed shouting out to God. "God be with us!" "Please Lord, Oh God Please!" Those are the words I remember saying. I thought it would never go over our house. It almost stood in one place and swirled through the house, ripping it into scattered memories. When it finally passed, I couldn't move. I heard my sister yelling out for my Mom and me. She was screaming out our names, "Mom, Terry, Are you alright? Oh God! Everything's destroyed! Don't move Mom, I'll get you out! I'll get you out!" Tammy was left standing with the bedroom door. It took five guys to get me out from under the rubble that was around me, under me, on top of me, everywhere! It took them twenty to thirty minutes to get me out. When Mom got out from under the debris with the help of my sister, she smelled gas, and of course, so did I. From the time she got out until I was freed, we thought the remainder of the house (if there was any) would blow up with me still trapped, unable to move an inch. The only thing I could see was the tile on the bedroom floor. They finally managed to pull me out from under the remains of what used to be a home, a home filled with love, that I thought would never be broken apart. We have the love in our home now as much as we had in it before, possibly more, if such a think is possible. Everyone's been so kind and generous. I don't know how I can ever thank all the people that's been so thoughtful of the scattered loved ones. GOD BLESS YOU! XENIA LIVES AND ALWAYS WILL! Terry G. Hunter
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Warnings and Watches
- TORNADO WARNING - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar
- TORNADO WATCH - Tornadoes are possible in your area.
- SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING - Severe thunderstorms are occuring
- SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WATCH - Severe thunderstorms are possible in your area.