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April 3, 1974: Xenia Tornado

The tornado superoutbreak of April 3-4, 1974 resulted in 148 tornadoes in 13 states. Across the United States, 315 people were killed, more than 6,000 injured, and 27,000 families suffered property losses. The Xenia Tornado caused the most deaths of any tornado in the outbreak. In Ohio, 12 tornadoes touched down, killing 36 people.

The Xenia Tornado touched down at 4:30 PM nine miles southwest of Xenia and entered the city about ten minutes later. It continued northeastward on a path of 32 miles through Xenia and Wilberforce into Clark County. The Xenia Tornado killed 32 people from Xenia to Wilberforce. About half of the buildings in the city of 27,000 were damaged and 300 homes destroyed. Nine Xenia churches were destroyed, as were seven of the twelve schools in the city. Fortunately, the tornado occurred an hour after classes had been dismissed. The roof and windows were blown from the Greene County Courthouse. A train passing through Xenia was struck by the tornado and 7 of the 47 cars were blown over, resulting in the blockage of Main Street.

More than 1300 people were treated for injuries at Green Memorial Hospital. Restaurants that were not destroyed handed out thousands of free meals to residents and rescue workers in Xenia. Convoys of generators, floodlights, bulldozers, and dump trucks arrived overnight from nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The tornado also struck Wilberforce University and Central State University, destroying many buildings and injuring several people on each campus.

Another violent tornado struck west of Cincinnati where homes were leveled and two people killed in Saylor Park. Other tornadoes that night caused significant damage in London and Mason and in rural areas of Adams and Paulding Counties.


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