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Rare February Tornadoes Set New Records in Central Ohio

Early Wednesday morning, residents of central Ohio were abruptly awakened by the ominous wail of tornado sirens, heralding a severe line of thunderstorms that swept through the region.

This weather event led to significant damage across several counties, underscoring the unpredictable nature of early spring storms in the Midwest. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), this onslaught of severe weather resulted in the formation of five tornadoes across central and southwestern Ohio, marking a significant meteorological event for the area.

weather radar
via NWS Facebook

The counties of Franklin, Fairfield, Licking, Knox, Madison, Morgan, and Perry found themselves under tornado warnings as early as 4:45 a.m., with strong winds fostering the tornadic conditions that would go on to cause substantial destruction.

By 6:50 p.m. last night, the NWS had confirmed the touchdown of five tornadoes, with an EF-1 in Hilliard, Franklin County, and an EF-2 in Blacklick, Franklin County—this latter tornado weakened to an EF-1 as it traveled into Jersey, Licking County. Additionally, an EF-1 was reported in London, Madison County, an EF-2 near Springfield, Clark County, and an unclassified tornado in Riverside in Montgomery and Greene counties.

Notably, the EF-2 tornado that ravaged Blacklick became the strongest February tornado recorded in Franklin County since 1971, with estimated wind speeds between 65-110 mph and leaving a trail of damage approximately 8-9 miles long. This tornado exhibited its fiercest power near McOwen Road in Franklin County, where it inflicted severe tree damage and structural losses, including a home that suffered extensive roof damage and the loss of an exterior wall.

Despite the extensive property damage, particularly in areas like Hilliard where one house was completely destroyed, there have fortunately been no reported injuries. This event has galvanized communities, with residents coming together to assist in cleanup efforts, highlighting the resilience and solidarity often seen in the aftermath of such disasters.

The aftermath of the tornadoes also had a considerable effect on local infrastructure, leading to school delays and power outages. American Electric Power reported thousands of customers without electricity, and damages were reported as far as Dayton, affecting buildings and planes at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

tornado damage at wright patterson air force base
Photo courtesy of Wright Patterson Air Force Base (Flickr)

Moreover, operations at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus were temporarily disrupted, although no damage that would impede operations was reported.

As the NWS continues to survey the damage and release more details in the coming days, the focus remains on recovery and support for those affected. This event serves as a stark reminder of the power of nature and the importance of community resilience in the face of adversity.