Columbus Tornado History




This page will detail all tornado events within the Columbus area. Any dollar figures for damages are for the year they occurred and not adjusted for inflation. Descriptions of damage come from newspaper articles or NCDC storm events summaries.

**Last updated- 11/28/2019- added 2 new tornadoes.

Wednesday, July 23, 1879
Between 4 and 5pm, a storm rolled across the city with a likely low end tornado. Damage was not particularly severe, with most consisting of downed trees and limbs. However, a home under construction near Mt. Vernon Avenue was destroyed down to the first floor. Multiple sheds, a stable, the brick front of a store, chimneys and many roofs were damaged or destroyed throughout the Downtown area, as well as the Near East Side. The reported swirling motion of the winds and debris patterns strongly suggests this was a tornado.
The day also brought severe weather to Plain City in Union County, where straight-line winds damaged roofs and flattened crops.

Sunday, June 16, 1912
Storms hit the metro area during the afternoon and caused damage across the region. Several possible tornadoes touched down. In Dublin, the Christie Methodist Church, as well as the local Presbyterian church, were destroyed, trees were downed and several other buildings sustained roof damage. From Downtown Columbus to Linden, trees were downed, roofs were blown off, electric poles were snapped and billboards were demolished. Most of the damage in Columbus occurred between the northern part of Downtown through the Short North and east through southern Linden.
In addition, a tornado struck Downtown Plain City, causing significant damage to many buildings. In Grove City, a schoolhouse was destroyed and a few homes lost roofs. At least one person was killed in Worthington. One other interesting fact is that it was reported the storms were moving from southeast to northwest, a very unusual storm motion.

Damage at North High Street in Dublin after the 6/16/1912 tornado.

Wednesday, December 7, 1927
**coming soon**

Thursday, May 2, 1929
A tornado briefly touched down in Franklinton during the afternoon. It struck the area around 515 Sullivant Avenue, where the Columbus Police Headquarters and workhouse were located. The tornado destroyed most of the workhouse, killing 2 prisoners residing there on misdemeanor charges. Several other inmates were injured and 7 took advantage of the situation and escaped the building. The tornado also downed trees, tore off the roofs of a few houses and destroyed a gas station. The HQ and workhouse, built in 1896, were eventually demolished in 1931.

Damage to the workhouse at the Columbus Police HQ building from the 5/2/1929 tornado.

Sunday, May 22, 1949
A probable small tornado struck near St. Louisville, 4 miles north of Newark in Licking County. The storm did about $5,000 in damage when it destroyed a barn, some outbuildings and about 25 trees.

Friday, March 19, 1954
At 8:50PM an EF1 tornado moved through a valley between the towns of Laurelville and Adelphi on the border of Pickaway and Ross counties. This tornado was roughly 100 yards wide and traveled a path of about 1 mile. The tornado destroyed some outbuildings, trees and at least 4 homes in Laurelville. One home was punctured with 10-foot beams from a destroyed barn, narrowly missing a sleeping boy’s head. Losses were estimated between $20,000-$35,000. No injuries or deaths were reported.

Damage from the 3/19/1954 tornado.

Monday, June 26, 1954
An EF0 tornado briefly touched down near the intersection of Cranwood Drive and Ambleside Drive in North Columbus. The 30-yard-wide tornado caused about $25,000 in damages, particularly to trees and power lines.

Monday, October 11, 1954
An EF1 tornado struck farm buildings at around 6:30PM at 1254 Georgesville Road. The farm had the roofs of 3 barns removed while other buildings received damage as well. Trees and power lines were also downed across the street. No injuries or deaths were reported, and damage was in the $3,000 range in the less than quarter-mile path.

A damaged barn from the 10/11/1954 tornado.

Monday, April 28, 1958
A strong cold front spun up a brief EF0 tornado just southeast of the Dublin Road/Grandview Avenue intersection on the West Side of Columbus. The 30-yard-wide tornado was only on the ground for a few seconds, limiting damage and causing no injuries or deaths.

Thursday, May 22, 1958
An EF2 tornado touched down about 3:15pm near Canal Road west of the Scioto River just southwest of Circleville. From there, the 30-yard-wide tornado traveled in a northeasterly direction, crossing Rt 23 and traveling along Crites Road. It continued moving northeast over Pickaway Country Club, passed the Pickaway/Fairfield County line less than half a mile north of Stoutsville, and ended to the southwest of the Justus Road SW and Wyandott Road SW intersection. The 9-mile path caused more than $250,000 in damage and 3 injuries. Strangely, I couldn’t find any news articles about this.

Friday, June 13, 1958
A small tornado hit Lockbourne Air Force Base (now Rickenbacker) during the late morning hours. The tornado damaged a pair of hangers, took the roof off of a shop, flipped cars and pushed large planes down the runway. Due to base security, formal damage surveys were not done and therefore information on EF rank, path, etc. are not known. No injuries or deaths occurred.

Tuesday, July 22, 1958
An EF2 tornado touched down just to the east of Mt Vernon Boulevard and north of Pierson Boulevard just north of Newark at around 1pm. The 200-yard-wide tornado traveled 8.6 miles in a general east-southeast direction to a point just to the east-northeast of Rt. 16 and Rock Haven Road SE. Besides many trees and power lines being knocked down, at least 20 farms reported heavy damage to barns, outbuildings and homes. The tornado also reportedly carried a 1.5 ton boiler half a mile. This would be the first tornado from the storm, which also produced tornadoes and damage in Muskingum, Guernsey, Coshocton and Tuscarawas counties. Meanwhile, storms brought over 2″ of rain across Columbus, flooding many streets.

Thursday, August 14, 1958
A brief EF0 tornado touched down southeast of the 165/229 intersection in Delaware County. The 33-yard-ward tornado caused no damage, but did result in one injury.

Sunday, July 5, 1959
At 4:20PM, an EF1 tornado touched down between Darbydale and Lambert Road just south of London-Groveport Road in southwest Franklin County. The tornado did not last long and caused no injuries or deaths. The only damage was to some trees and outbuildings.

Friday, June 24, 1960
A tornado touched down around 5:30am just west of Benedict Drive in Johnstown. The EF1 tornado traveled less than 1000 feet, but managed to destroy a barn and hurl the pieces into a house at 85 Benedict Drive before taking off the roof as well. The tornado then lifted before coming down again briefly in Downtown Johnstown where it brought down trees and power lines and damaged more buildings. There was only 1 injury.

Damage to 85 Benedict Drive from the 6/24/1960 tornado.

Friday, July 28, 1961
A 500-yard-wide EF0 tornado traveled about 1 mile along Scioto-Darby Creek Road west of Hilliard. Touching down just before midnight, it destroyed several farm buildings, caused significant damage to a pair of homes and killed about 100 chickens. No injuries or deaths occurred.

Damage to a home at 7207 Scioto-Darby Creek Road on 7/28/1961.

Monday, October 8, 1962
A small tornado occurred in Columbus and Pickerington between 12:30AM-1AM, but while it was confirmed by the US Weather Bureau at the time, it does not show up in the official storm records at NCDC. In any case, the reported tornado first hit the Joyce Iron and Metal Company building in Columbus, taking its roof. It then hit a farm near the intersection of Refugee Road and Miller Road, damaging 4 buildings and carrying debris half a mile. No EF ranking or other data exists for this tornado.

Friday, April 19, 1963
A 33-yard-wide EF1 tornado touched down for less than half a mile at 3:15PM just north of Williamsport in Pickaway County. Damage details are not known, but the tornado caused 1 injury and about $25,000 in damage.

Wednesday, June 5, 1963
An EF2 tornado touched down for less than half a mile at 6:30PM about 2 miles southwest of Commercial Point in Pickaway County. The tornado lifted a house trailer off its foundations and rolled it over a fence. 2 children were injured and about $25,000 in damages occurred.

Wednesday, June 5, 1963
An EF1 tornado struck Trailer Terrace Court on Rt. 40 about 1.25 miles west of Kirkersville in Licking County. The tornado destroyed a trailer during its less than half-mile track. No injuries or deaths were reported.

Thursday, May 10, 1973
Arguably the most significant tornado in Columbus history got its start with a storm in Northern Champaign County southwest of Couchman Road and Glady Creek at around 6:45PM. This EF3 tornado touched down and lifted numerous times, never staying on the ground for very long. The tornado first moved southeastward, passing just east of Urbana where it damaged 34 homes and several farm buildings, injuring 3 people. It then touched down again just north of Springfield and began moving more toward the east, but damage was minor in Clark County. The tornado first moved into the Columbus Metro when it touched down in northern Madison County. As it moved just to the north of London, the tornado damaged or destroyed 34 houses and caused 14 injuries. The storm then entered Franklin County on the northeast side of West Jefferson. In Franklin County, it first destroyed a mobile home near the intersection of Hall Road/Alton Road at about 8:30PM before destroying about 10 homes under construction in the Quail Hollow subdivision southeast of the Hall Road/Alton Road intersection. The tornado crossed Norton Road at the railroad tracks and then lifted. It would cause damage again by tearing the roof off a house on Big Run Road just north of 270 before damaging a business at 2375 Harrisburg Pike. It continued to sporadically damage buildings a 2380 Harrisburg Pike, 2500 Gantz Road and several homes along Dyer and Brown roads. It then struck the South High Drive-in at 3050 S. High Street, destroying one of the screens. The tornado next damaged homes, buildings and trees on Basswood Road and Stockbridge Road. After that, the tornado lifted again, before coming down near the intersection of Williams Road and Lockbourne Road, destroying the roof of a building. After that, the tornado lifted once more until it reached Fairfield County, where it destroyed a mobile home. Although not continuous, the tornado affected a path of about 85 miles overall. In Franklin County, the tornado damaged or destroyed 97 homes and dozens more other buildings. Damage was estimated above $1 million. There were also 3 injuries, but no deaths.

The 5/10/1973 tornado as it passed through South Columbus.

Friday, May 25, 1973
At around 6:30PM, the public reported a funnel cloud on the West Side of Columbus, about 6 miles outside of Downtown. The EF2 tornado touched down shortly afterward, first striking the Westinghouse Electric Corporation complex at 300 Phillipi Road. There, it blew out 450 feet of a plant building wall while removing part of the roof of another. A man in the Westinghouse parking lot was picked up and carried approximately 75 feet, but was not injured. The tornado also blew out showroom windows and knocked down signs in the area before lifting. The less than quarter-mile track of the 133-yard-wide tornado caused about $250,000 in damage. No injuries were reported.

The damage at Westinghouse Electric Corporation caused by the 5/25/1973 tornado.

Wednesday, May 30, 1973
At 1:55PM, an EF2 tornado touched down at the Defense Construction Supply Center (DCSC) at 3990 E. Broad Street. The tornado heavily damaged 4 warehouses and destroyed dozens of cars in a parking lot. The tornado moved in a northeasterly direction from there, lifting up and touching back down several times. It struck the plant of Rockwell International Corporation at 4300 E. 5th Avenue next, tearing off most of the roof of a plant building. The tornado then hit Port Columbus (now John Glenn International) where it moved a jetliner 800 feet. Operations there were suspended for only about 15 minutes. Finally, the tornado destroyed a house east of Hamilton Road and south of Havens Corners Road. The 17-yard-wide tornado traveled about 2 miles in all, caused 2 injuries and $2.6 million in damages.

The 5/30/1973 tornado as it passed over the Airport Golf Course.

Tuesday, June 17, 1975
A weak tornado touched down just outside the Scarlett Manor trailer park at 555 Greenlawn Avenue. The tornado proceeded to destroy 3 trailers, with dozens more damaged or knocked off their foundations. The tornado lifted briefly before coming down again and damaging the roofs of 4 buildings at the Greenbriar Apartments at 910 Eaton Avenue.
A separate tornado hit Grove City, damaging about 30 homes in a 4-block area bounded by Parlin Drive, Yates Avenue, Hoover Road and Devin Road.
Yet another small EF1 tornado touched down briefly in SE Franklin County northeast of Bixby Road and Rohr Road.

Damage to the mobile home park from the 6/17/1975 tornado.

Sunday, June 1, 1980
**coming soon**

Sunday, June 2, 1991
Around 4pm, a weak EF0 tornado touched down for about 10 seconds near the intersection of Morse Road and Cherry Bottom Road. The 30-yard-wide tornado traveled a less than 0.5 mile path, damaging a few dozen trees and destroying a construction trailer. Damage was in the $25,000 range. There were no injuries or deaths.

Wednesday, October 13, 1999
At about 4:55PM an EF3 tornado hit parts of Circleville in Pickaway County. The tornado touched down first about 1.5 west of Circleville just west of the State Rt 56/22 intersection where it pulled a small shed off of its foundation before destroying a section of a construction building along Rt 22. After this, the tornado lifted and then touched down in a more developed area in town. It destroyed a building housing two businesses on North Court Street and ripped the roof off of a section of a strip mall, ejecting furniture from inside the structure. A large sign weighing several hundred pounds was ripped from its foundation and blown twenty feet away. A tractor trailer with a load of 18 to 19 tons was blown over and dragged ten feet away from where it landed. The tornado then proceeded to a housing development where several homes were destroyed along and near Fairlawn Avenue. Several roofs were ripped off and garages were either destroyed or moved from their foundations. Trees were twisted and broken off at their bases and carports were also torn from nearby houses. Damage exceeded $4 Million and there were 6 injuries. The tornado packed winds up to 200MPH, reached a maximum width of 440 yards and traveled about 3.5 miles.

Damage to a home from the 10/13/1999 Circleville tornado.

Tuesday, May 23, 2000
An EF0 tornado briefly touched down just east of the Jerusalem Road/Lancaster-New Lexington Road intersection northeast of Bremen in Fairfield County. It downed trees, destroyed a shed and damaged some farm machinery. It caused about $50,000 damage along its 130-yard-wide, half-mile track. There were no injuries or deaths.
A second tornado in the family, an EF1, touched down to the east in Perry County on Jackson Township Road 371. It then moved east for about 2 miles along County Road 9 (Pen Road) where it ripped off the roof of a house, pushed a modular home off its foundation, removed the roof another trailer before destroying a barn and garage on Palomino Road. The 150-yard-wide tornado caused about $185,000 in damage, but no injuries or deaths.

Wednesday, September 20, 2000
An EF2 tornado traveled a broken 25-mile path through Delaware, Licking and Knox counties. The tornado first touched down along Harlem Road about a mile north of the Franklin County line. From there it moved northeasterly for several miles. It destroyed 2 high-tension power towers and 14 homes before lifting just west of the Licking County line.
The tornado touched down again just inside Licking County just northeast of the Clover Valley Golf Club, moving generally east-northeast. At least 15 homes were damaged or destroyed along with several barns and outbuildings. Additionally, a dozen buildings at Buckeye Egg Company were destroyed, trapping at least 1 million chickens, most of which had to eventually be killed. The tornado continued into Knox County, causing damage to some farm buildings and 4 homes. Overall the 100-yard-wide tornado injured 2 people and caused about $2.5 million in damage.

Saturday, September 23, 2000
An 25-yard-wide EF0 tornado briefly touched down in a field about half a mile directly south of Rickenbacker in Pickaway County. It was only only the ground a few seconds and caused no damage.

Saturday, September 23, 2000
An EF0 tornado made a few short touchdowns in the northern half of Lancaster in Fairfield County, destroying a garage and downing trees and power lines. The 50-yard-wide tornado caused no deaths or injuries, but about $30,000 in damage along a less than half-mile total path.

Saturday, September 23, 2000
A 50-yard-wide EF1 began a short 0.2 mile path a few miles northeast of Bremen in Fairfield County where it damaged a home and garage. It caused $150,000 in damage, but no injuries or deaths.

Saturday, June 2, 2001
A weak EF0 tornado moved through southern portions of Circleville at around 455PM. The tornado touched down between Canal Road and the Scioto River to the northwest of Logan Elm Village. It moved eastward on a half-mile track, damaging a restaurant roof, pushing a trailer off its foundation, damaging several cars at a dealership and downing trees and power lines.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
An EF0 tornado touched down in rural Morrow County just to the southeast of Marengo at 7:58PM. The initial touchdown was near the intersection of County Road 212 and Webb Road. The tornado continued east northeast for around two miles before lifting near the intersection of Township Roads 208 and 211. Five homes were damaged and dozens of trees downed along the damage path which was no more than 50 yards in width. Four of the five homes sustained minor damage, mostly from lost shingles or siding. The fifth, a manufactured home, lost most of it’s roof and large sections of siding. The tornado lifted at 8:02PM. It caused about $100,000 in damage, but no injuries or deaths.

Saturday, August 20, 2016
An EF0 tornado touched down at 6:37PM just south of Buckeye Valley Middle School in Delaware County. The tornado proceeded north-northeast into a residential area where it downed a few trees and limbs, as well as causing some roof damage on Coover Road. The tornado lifted thereafter until it crossed US-23 just west of Delaware Dam, damaging trees on the west side of the highway. The tornado then moved through Delaware State Park where it mostly caused tree damage and some minor damage to a few boats. There were no reported injuries or deaths.

Tree damage from the August 20, 2016 tornado in Delaware State Park.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018
An EF1 touched down in Olde Towne East on East Mound Street between S. Ohio and S. Champion Avenue at 5:53AM. From there, the tornado moved east-northeastward for 3.75 miles to a position just south of Broad Street near the Town & Country Shopping Center. The 150-yard-wide tornado damaged trees and power poles in Olde Towne and Bexley before damaging several homes in the Mayfair neighborhood near E. Broad and James Road. The tornado lifted at 5:57AM. There were no injuries or deaths.

September 26, 2018 tornado damage in the Mayfair neighborhood.

Monday, May 26-27th, 2019 Outbreak
In one of the largest tornado outbreaks in Ohio history, 19 tornadoes would strike the state. The worst tornado was a long-track EF4 in the Dayton area. These same storms would go on to enter the Columbus metro and produce a handful of weaker tornadoes in Pickaway and Hocking counties, as listed below.
Tornado #1
For around 5 minutes beginning at 1AM, an EF0 tornado touched down at the intersection of Ludwig-Dresback Road/Morris Salem Road intersection south of Circleville in Pickaway County. The 75-yard-wide tornado then traveled east-southeast for about 2.4 miles to just southeast of Zane Trail Road/Morris Salem Road intersection. Along its path, the tornado caused extensive tree damage and damage to several properties, including partially removing a wall from a home. Maximum winds were about 75mph.
Tornado #2
The second tornado in the series dropped at 1:09AM on State Route 56 just west of Salt Creek Elementary School in Pickaway County before lifting a few minutes later near Tarlton-Adelphi Road. The tornado damaged several homes and other buildings, as well as causing extensive tree damage. The EF1 tornado traveled 1.5 miles, reached 75 yards wide and had winds up to 95mph.
Tornado #3
At 1:17AM, the last tornado in the series, an EF2, touched down 50 yards west of Union Road northwest of Wolfe Road in Hocking County. From there, the 400-yard-wide tornado traveled east-northeast to a position east of Clapper Hollow Road before Jack Run Road. Damage included severe tree damage, several homes were severely damaged, including one that had a truck thrown into it. After being on the ground for about 11 minutes and 5.3 miles, the tornado lifted at 1:28AM. Maximum winds reached about 125mph.