XENIA, Ohio (WDTN) — 148 tornadoes were laid down in the United States on April 3 and 4, 1974, known as “The Super Outbreak”. The deadliest of those twisters, destroying parts of Xenia, killing 33, remains in the top 10 costliest twisters in history.
Before sirens, accessible radar data, or tornado sirens, warnings disseminated on radio and television, but with technological advances the National Weather Service is able to reach more people quicker with Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA).
Tom Johnstone, Meteorologist in Charge at NWS Wilmington said, “Only going to notify them for the most damaging and dangerous of storms. So that’s been a huge technological leap where we can warn people directly on their phones. Almost everyone has a phone at their side.”
The twister changed lives forever, and so did emergency management in events like the 1974 super outbreak, working closely with the National Weather Service days before an expected weather event.
Ethan Raby, Greene County Emergency Management Response Director said, “Green County EMA works closely with the National Weather Service ahead of storms arrival in order to get the most up to date information. And then we disseminate information to our partners and partner agencies and community stakeholders.”
Upgrading from old radar technology which could only send horizontal radio waves to dual-polarization has been the biggest advancement in technology, increasing lead time from a few minutes to around 15 minutes.
Johnstone said, “The Dual-Pol, as we call it, aspect of our radar system now allows us not just to see where storms are rotating, but if they start lofting debris up in the air like we saw in Miami County and Auglaize County and Preble County, just this last couple of days, we were able to confirm as it was happening that, yes, we had tornadoes on the ground.”
Xenia is no stranger to strong tornadoes, in 2000, an F4 tornado struck the city, with nearly the same track. We do have severe weather potential this Wednesday. Have multiple ways to receive your watches and warnings.