DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Since 1950, Ohio has seen six tornadoes during the month of December. Two occurred in 1973. Five out of seventy-one years is about a 7% chance of a tornado in Ohio in December.

The average number of tornadoes is zero. We don’t expect tornadoes to happen, but that doesn’t mean they can’t happen.

DATEEF SCALETimePEAK WINDCITYLENGTHWIDTHCOUNTIES
12/26/1973F-14:30 PM73-112 MPHMiddletown0.5 miles200 yardsButler
12/26/1973F-15 PM73-112 MPH35 miles33 yardsRoss, Pickaway, Fairfield
12/23/1990F-14:11 AM73-112 MPHPleasant City & Batesville8 miles50 yardsGuemsey, Batesville
12/26/2014EF-05:16 PM70 MPHLancaster0.6 miles30 yardsFairfield
12/23/2015EF-04:55 PM77 MPHFountain City & Bethel, Indiana3.25 miles30 yardsWayne, Indiana
12/23/2015EF-05:12 PM77 MPHArcanum50 yards20 yardsDarke
12/11/2021EF-13:06 AM110 MPHAda1.6 miles260 yardsHardin
Tornado data from the Storm Event Database: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/stormevents/choosedates.jsp?statefips=39%2COHIO# and NWS ILN Significant Events: https://www.weather.gov/iln/events

The National Weather Service started using the Enhanced Fujita Scale in 2007. The Fujita Scale was adjusted to create a better match of estimated wind speeds to the damage seen.

Across the United States, December Tornadoes are more common across the Southeast. Between 1989 and 2013 Texas sees an average of three December Tornadoes. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama see two. Georgia, Florida, Arkansas, Missouri, and California have an average of one December tornado. The rest of the states have an average of zero but remember even though the average is zero, Ohio did see one tornado in this range of years.

Tornadoes are more common across the southeast because there is more moisture and warmer temperatures in this region. The high in Dayton was 65 degrees Saturday morning when the Tornado was recorded in Hardin County. This is more than 20 degrees above our normal temperature.

Heat is an important factor because that increases the convective available potential energy that feeds supercell tornadoes. Wind shear is another important factor this can happen anytime a cold front or a warm front is moving through the region.

The stronger tornadoes that use heat to fuel them are rare in December. Since 1950 only two F or EF-5 tornadoes have been recorded during the month of December. The survey is still ongoing across Arkansas and Kentucky. A third tornado will likely be added to the list.

In 1953, a F-5 tornado killed 38 people in Vicksburg, MS on Dec. 5. The tornado was nine miles long.

The second was in 1957. A F-5 tornado killed one person in southern Illinois. The path was 5.4 miles long just north of Du Quoin Lake.

For comparison, there have been 20 F/EF-5 tornadoes in May and 20 in April between 1950 and 2017.

Between 1991 and 2020 there have been 27 tornadoes recorded in December. Four were EF-4. The most recent was Dec. 26, 2015, in Dallas and Rockwall, County in Texas. 10 fatalities were reported.

Also in 2015, an EF-4 resulted in nine fatalities on Dec. 23 in Marshall and Benton County in Mississippi.

In 2000, an EF-4 twister was linked to 11 deaths in Tuscaloosa County Alabama on Dec. 16. This is the most deaths from one tornado during the month of December until Friday.

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