Sunday, February 15, 2009


Xenia's Killer Tornado!!

It was 1974. Richard Nixon was still president. Kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst was still missing. In Xenia, a pretty spot of 25,000 people amid fields of soybeans and corn, American Graffiti was held over at the Cinema. The Xenia Hotel offered a chicken and dumpling dinner for $2.25, but everyone flocked to the A&W drive-in for burgers and root beer floats. That's where five of the bodies were found after the storm.

In all, 33 people died in Xenia's tornado, the deadliest of 148 storms that raged through 13 states during the infamous "Super Outbreak'' of tornadoes April 3-4, 1974. In 16 hours and 10 minutes, 330 people were killed and nearly 5,550 were injured from Illinois to Georgia.

Though the Xenia death toll has been matched by other killer storms, the degree of devastation makes the city's tornado among U.S. history's most destructive. The storm still is studied in colleges by aspiring meteorologists, a textbook case of a rare Category F-5, the most intense of tornadoes.

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