SPC Stats

Path length: 31.3 miles

Width:  533 yards

Fatalities:  36

Injuries:  1150

Rating:  F5

County:  Greene, Clarke

The deadliest tornado of the April 3-4, 1974 outbreak was the F5 that hit Xenia, OH.  Per the SPC, it continues to be in the top 10 of costliest tornadoes on record.   Per Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes, “This was the most publicized tornado of the day and perhaps the most well-studied tornado in history, from a wind-engineering perspective.”

Damage details from the Storm Data Publication:

This tornado developed 5 miles SW of Xenia near Bellbrook.  It moved quickly to the northeast through Xenia destroyed/damaging about 1/2 of the city.  The population at the time was 25,000. There were public report of 2, possibly 3 separate funnels.  The Arrowhead Subdivision was leveled. 300 homes were destroyed and 2100 were damaged.  Most of the downtown business area was destroyed/heavily damaged.  Two nearby colleges sustained major damage.  The Xenia High School was destroyed.  A furniture manufacturing company, most of a foundry and machine company were “laid to ruin.”

Storm Data has a separate entry for the damage in Clarke County.  They seem to indicate the tornado lifted north of Cedarville and then set down again near Cortsville, meaning 2 separate tornadoes. From other research, it would appear that one longer track was discovered.  In Clarke County, several farm buildings, homes, and mobile homes were damaged/destroyed.

Tornado Path

Click Map To Enlarge

SPC coordinates:  Start: 39.63 / -84.05   End:  39.92 / -83.60

Used county coordinates as well from NCDC Database  

Note:  Exact tornado path may not be straight and/or continuous.

Tornado Photo via NWS Wilmington Summary

The Xenia Tornado. Photo taken from the Greene Memorial Hospital by Fred Stewart.

Radar Photos via NCDC

CVG WSR-57 radar shows Xenia storm (upper right)
CVG WSR-57 radar shows Xenia tornado developing

Ground Damage Photos via NWS Wilmington Summary.

Aerial Photos via NWS Wilmington Summary.

Videos

Discrepancies:

We gathered information for this event from the SPC & NCDC Databases, the April 1974 Storm Data Publication, an overview via NWS Wilmington, and Thomas Grazulis in Significant Tornadoes and found the following differences:

Path Length:

  • SPC/NCDC list the length at 31.3 miles.
  • Grazulis rounds up and has 32 mile path.
  • The Greene County entry in Storm Data has a length of 16 miles.  The Clark County entry lists a 7 miles path.  Total of 23 miles.  That does not mesh with other sources.  See Storm Data entries below map.

Width:

  • SPC/NCDC list max width of 533 yards.
  • Grazulis has max width of 500 yards.
  • Storm Data has a max width of 1300 yards (approx 3/4 of a mile).

Fatalities:

  • The total fatalities range from 34 to 36. 
  • Officially, SPC has 36 fatalities, all in Greene County.
  • On the official marker dedicated to the lives lost, 34 names are listed.  32 who died as a result of the tornado.  2 names in memory of Air National Guardsmen who lost their lives in the aftermath of the tornado.

    Sources:

    The Storm Prediction Center

    NCDC Storm Events Database

    April 1974 Storm Data Publication

    NWS Wilmington Summary

    newspapers.com

    Grazulis, Thomas P. (1993). Significant Tornadoes 1680-1991: A Chronology and Analysis of Events. St. Johnsbury, VT: The Tornado Project of Environmental Films. Page 1154.

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