** The video in the player above details information regarding the deadly tornado in a 2020 newscast **
XENIA, Ohio (WDTN) — On Wednesday, April 3, 1974, a dangerous tornado struck the Miami Valley and tore through Xenia.
2 NEWS sat down with someone that was in Xenia and experienced the tornado and the previous Storm Team 2 chief meteorologist to find out their take on the tornado from different perspectives.
A Resident’s Experience
Peggy Putich was a resident of Xenia when the tornado struck and remembers the day like it was yesterday. Two days before the twister struck, her and her husband had purchased the house where she was residing.
On the afternoon of the storm, Putich was working at a store called King’s Department Store, near US-42 in Xenia. She was in the store at the time the tornado ripped through the small town around 4:40 p.m. When she and her coworkers were alerted that the dangerous storm was headed for the town, she remembers hiding under a table near the safe to wait until it passed.
The resident of Xenia got off of work at 5 p.m. and proceeded to head home. As she drove along the roads of the town, she was forced to eventually pull over and stop the vehicle because a majority of the roads in the area were completely blocked, mostly by downed trees that had fallen as a result of the storm.
As she approached her street and saw her house, Putich noticed that only her house and the next-door neighbor’s house was the only one left standing. In one of the trees, she noticed a blue blanket that she owned had flew up during the storm and was resting in the tree. Everything was almost completely destroyed throughout the entire area.
“When I left, I wasn’t expecting anything I saw,” Putich said. “It was just devastating. It was horrible when you went through the Arrowhead Plat.”
Once Putich arrived at her house, she says it took several hours before she was even able to have contact with her husband to know if he was even alive after the storm.
“I didn’t hear from my husband until 10:30 p.m. that night,” Putich says. “It was just sad for everyone not being able to know where their loved ones were at.”
Putich says she is still thankful that only the back of her house was damaged, which was estimated around $10K in damage costs.
Perspective from a Professional
Former Storm Team 2 Chief Meteorologist Carl Nichols was at a news station in Louisville, Ky. covering tornadic activity of what the National Weather Service calls the ‘Super Outbreak‘ of 1974.
“Basically the same complex that hit Louisville hit Xenia a little bit later in the afternoon,” Nichols said. “In Louisville, we had one that caused 300 homes to be damaged. There were several deaths, but not quite as bad as the Xenia tornado.”
Nichols describes as he watched the storm move from around the area he was at in Kentucky to more of a northward movement. The storm strengthened again as it approached Cincinnati and eventually struck the county seat of Greene County.
“That [The Storm] moved away from us, regenerated, and by that time it got to Cincinnati, it perked up again and intensified. That’s the storm that went through the Xenia area.”
Most people today around the Miami Valley are accustomed to getting emergency alerts at the touch of a button and hearing tornado sirens every so often, even if it is just a weekly or monthly test. Back when the twister struck the small town in the middle of Greene County, tornado sirens had not yet reached the area and ways of communication and tracking was considerably minimalized compared to today.
“The only thing we had was radio and television that could alert you.”
The former chief meteorologist suggests that even when a Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued, you should take it serious, along with Tornado Warnings. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are capable of producing storms that could have 60 to 70 mph winds, which can cause trees and power lines to be damaged or fall.
When severe weather is expected for the area and a warning is issued, you should take cover indoors and away from windows.