High winds wreak havoc across Miami Valley

A day before the anniversary of one of the deadliest windstorms in Ohio history, a less powerful but damaging windstorm swept through the Miami Valley on Saturday knocking out power to more than 30,000 customers, destroying buildings, ripping off rooftops, toppling trees and snapping power lines.

A brief band of snow showers also punctured through the region before the sun reappeared to end a wacky weather occurrence.

“We saw just about everything weather-wise Saturday in the Miami Valley: strong damaging winds, rain and even a little bit of snow,” said StormCenter 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. “This is all due to a large storm system just to our North.”

He said the region today will not experience the same weather patterns and damaging winds, but it will remain cold.

“While we will see more sunshine and the winds will relax a bit, but it will still be breezy,” Collar said. “Wind gusts could exceed 25 mph. It will also be very cold to start as we’ll see temperatures in the 20s before sunrise. Wind chills will be in the teens.”

Although no major injuries were reported Saturday, the day marked the anniversary of one of the state’s deadliest windstorms.

On April 3, 1974, shortly after 4:00pm, an F5 tornado tore through Xenia leaving 33 people dead and more than 13-hundred injured. It left a path of destruction more than half a mile wide destroying or damaging more than 1,400 buildings, including 1,200 homes, dozens of businesses, 10 churches and several schools.

On Saturday wind gusts exceeded 60 mph — the highest were 65 mph recorded in Darke County and 63 mph at Dayton International Airport — that resulted in major property damages and extensive power outages, Collar said.

“The high winds were due to a very large pressure gradient,” Collar said. “An area of low pressure to our northeast and an area of high pressure to our west caused a large difference in pressure. The greater this pressure difference is, the higher the winds are.”

The high winds left a path of destruction that people and businesses will continue to clean up throughout today.

Tom Tatham, director of operations at Dayton Power & Light, said crews will work today assessing damages and restoring power. Outages exceeded 30,000 in Southwest Ohio at the peak of the windstorm. He said when power outages are as widespread, every precaution must be followed.

“When we’ve had this kind of damage this quickly, everybody needs to think safety,” Tatham said. “Always assume wires are live and energized.”

The aftermath was felt throughout the region. In Huber Heights, for example, large trees fell on two houses, with downed trees knocking out the entire power grid in the city, officials said.

In South Charleston, a barn collapsed due to high winds along Chenowith Road.

In Butler County, southbound Interstate 75 was forced to shut down at Union Centre Boulevard after downed electrical wires caused a crash in the northbound lane.

In Shelby County, the National Weather Service reported strong winds blew over a semi-truck on southbound I-75 near the Anna exit at 6:20 p.m.

Even landmarks were not spared.

In Clark County, the ever-present famous dairy cow that has has greeted four decades of customers at Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, was blown off atop of the store’s sign on U.S. 68. On their Facebook page, the owners said the bovine is going to be fine.

“The cow is OK, no one was hurt. Repairs will happen starting Monday. She is recoverable! A bit of fiberglass, some paint, and … She’s been up there for over 40 years — she’ll be back.”

Staff writer Richard Wilson contributed to this report.

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