Nixon called the damage from this tornado the worst devastation he'd ever seen

On this day in weather history, an F5 tornado flattened a city in Ohio.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


From Wednesday, April 3 to Thursday, April 4, 1974, 148 tornadoes touched down in 13 U.S. states and one Canadian province. Yesterday, we covered the Canadian tornado, as it ripped through Windsor, Ont. and killed nine people in a curling club.

The tornado event, called the 1974 Super Outbreak, is the second-biggest tornado outbreak within 24 hours. It's also the most violent outbreak with 30 F4 or F5 confirmed tornadoes.

Super Outbreak Map

"Tracks of tornadoes generated during the 1974 Super Outbreak." Courtesy of Wikipedia

The deadliest tornado of the outbreak was located in Xenia, Ohio. The F5 tornado killed 32 people and destroyed a large portion of the city. Entire rows of brick homes were swept away without much debris left behind.

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Xenia tornado

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The twister also flattened apartment buildings, businesses, churches, and schools. Some people were at the Xenia A&W Root Beer stand when the tornado came and crushed the building, killing those in the area.

A few days after the tornado, President Richard Nixon visited Xenia and immediately declared the town a disaster area. "As I look back over the disasters, I saw the earthquake in Anchorage in 1964; I saw the hurricanes...Hurricane Camille in 1969 down in Mississippi, and I saw Hurricane Agnes in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. And it is hard to tell the difference among them all, but I would say in terms of destruction, just total devastation, this is the worst I have seen," said Nixon.


"F5 damage to homes in the Arrowhead/Windsor Park area of Xenia." Courtesy of Wikipedia

After this storm, the city installed ten sirens to alarm for future tornadoes.

To learn more about the 1974 Super Outbreak, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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Thumbnail: "View of some of the structural damage caused by the Xenia, Ohio, tornado during the 1974 tornado Super Outbreak of 3-4 April, 1974. This F5 tornado killed over 30 people, and injured over a thousand." Courtesy of Wikipedia