Ohio leads nation in tornadoes to start 2024

Ohio has seen more tornadoes than the rest of the nation in the first months of the new year.

Data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows that, so far in 2024, Ohio has recorded 38 total tornado reports, the most of any state. This was a marked increase from last year, which during the same time period (Jan. 1 through Apr. 18) had 25 reported tornadoes.

Ohio was followed by Florida, with 34 tornadoes reported so far this year.

Of the 38 total tornadoes reported in Ohio this year, four occurred in southwest Ohio: Two on Feb. 28 in Riverside and Springfield Twp., one March 14 that spanned Darke and Miami counties during a fatal outbreak of tornadoes that included a devastating one at Indian Lake, and a short-lived tornado in Champaign County on April 17.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Ashley Novak said that large-scale weather patterns this year have pushed more severe weather north into our area.

These patterns include El Niño, where climate patterns in the Pacific Ocean lead to weakened trade winds and warm water pushing east, leading to dryer and warmer areas in the northern U.S. and Canada.

Novak said that a warmer winter generally leads to severe weather arriving earlier in the year, and when you are in a generally warmer weather pattern tornado activity can extend into the winter.

Usually spring is when we get the most tornadoes, though you can get them at any time of the year, she said.

This year in particular has seen a quicker start to our tornado season, Novak said. She specifically pointed out the storms on Feb. 28, which in our area saw tornadoes touch down in Riverside and in Springfield Twp.

On average, Novak said, in February we receive no tornadoes, according to NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center data from 1990 to 2022.

She also pointed to an increase in supercell-type weather events in our area this year. Supercells tend to create more intense severe weather and are typically more limited in our area.

We are now going into our usual time frame for severe weather, so Novak said that area residents should be weather aware.

“We still have a ways to go,” she said.

As to whether this means we will see more severe weather in future years or whether “Tornado Alley” was shifting into this area, Novak said she couldn’t say one way or the other.

She said that while this year has obviously been worse, there are also years with very little severe weather, and there are still concentrations of severe weather events to the west and south of our area.

A look at the 2024 tornadoes in this region:

Feb. 28 tornadoes

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Two tornadoes touched down in the area early Feb. 28.

At about 4:37 a.m., an EF-1 tornado touched down near Mitchell Drive and Spinning Road in Riverside. It would go on to smash glass on the storefronts at the Airway Shopping Center, then move to Greene County, ripping metal off a hangar at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The last damage from the tornado was noted near University Boulevard west of the Wright State University student union. The tornado ended around 4:41 a.m.

At around 4:52 a.m., an EF-2 tornado touched down south of Shawnee High School in Springfield Twp., finally coming to an end in Madison County near Choctaw Lake. Along the way, the tornado snapped trees, tearing the roofs off of houses, destroying barns and outbuildings, and collapsing a hangar at the Madison County Airport. The tornado finally lifted at about 5:15 a.m. in a field near London.

March 14 tornadoes

On March 14, a tornado outbreak produced an EF-2 tornado that crossed 25 miles of Indiana before entering Darke County south of Union City around 8:20 p.m. It then made its way across the county, injuring two people in Greenville Twp. and damaging property before crossing into Miami County about half an hour later. In Miami County the NWS noted more structural damage, though there were no other injuries reported before the tornado dissipated along state Route 48 near Covington at around 9 p.m.

The same tornado outbreak created an EF-3 tornado that struck communities around Indian Lake in Logan County, killing three people and injuring 27. The tornado had winds with an estimated maximum speed of 155 mph, and the tornado’s path reached a maximum width of 1,000 yards, the NWS said.

That tornado began about 7:29 p.m. immediately to the east of Interstate 75 south of Wapakoneta in Auglaize County. It traveled 31.2 miles through Lakeview and Russells Point before ending about three miles southwest of West Mansfield in Logan County.

April 17 tornado

At about 4:21 p.m. April 17, an EF-0 tornado touched down near Mutual and Urbana, dealing minor structure damage and uprooting multiple trees, before finally lifting around 4:25 p.m. near Woodstock.

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