Major tornado outbreaks happen in northern Ohio once or twice a decade

CLEVELAND - We see pictures and video of destructive tornadoes like Moore and Joplin all the time.

Since Ohio is far from Tornado Ally, many of you may think that major tornado outbreaks don't happen here. Unfortunately, that's not the truth.

Large destructive tornadoes can and do happen right here in northern Ohio. In fact, major tornado outbreaks occur once or twice a decade. Let's look back at some of the more memorable ones.

May 31, 1985 - It was the largest tornado outbreak of the the year in the U.S. Forty-one tornadoes churned across Eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania and Southern Ontario. The largest was an EF-5 twister that touched down near the Ravenna Arsenal in Portage County.

It then cut a 47-mile long path of death and destruction through Newton Falls, Niles and Trumbull Township. Elevan people died in Niles alone. In Newton Falls, tornado sirens sounded soon enough to save all the residents, despite almost total destruction of the town. Even more impressive: The Niles-Newton Falls tornado, with winds near 250 mph, was the strongest twister in the United States in 1985.

July 12, 1992 - A stalled cold front near Lake Erie combined with very warm, humid air to the south to produce the most tornadoes ever on a single day in Ohio. In all, 29 twisters formed that day across the state. Twenty-one of those, touched down from Toledo to Cleveland to near Akron.

One storm, narrowly missed the roller coaster riders at Cedar Point, doing serious damage to nearby motels. Another tornado did more than $1 million damage to Stow and Cuyahoga Falls. The strongest that day was an F-3 storm that blasted through rural, central Medina County. Luckily, it was a Sunday. So, no one was killed. In all, a record 44 tornadoes touched down in July 1992, the most ever in one month in Ohio and 61 twisters for the year is also an all-time state record.

Nov. 10, 2002 - Most don't think of November as a month to worry about tornadoes. But, in 2002, Ohio was ground zero for a fall outbreak. Nineteen tornadoes dropped down on the afternoon of Nov. 10 in Ohio, 15 alone in the NewsChannel5 viewing area.

A tornado blasted through the town of Port Clinton, where more than 180 buildings were damaged, including the local high school and the hospital. One person died when a farmhouse was demolished in Seneca County. In Summit County, a strong twister with winds above 130 mph damaged or destroyed 100 homes from Macedonia to Twinsburg. It then moved northeast, where it ripped the roof off the middle school in Solon. Once again, because it was Sunday, no student or teachers were in the school at the time.

Other big tornado outbreaks that have occurred right here in your backyard include the Super Outbreak in April 1974 and the Palm Sunday Outbreak back in 1965. Big tornadoes do happen in Ohio. They have before and they will again. Are you ready?

Print this article Back to Top