On the evening of Wednesday May 24th, 2017 an unexpected tornado event occurred in Southwestern Ohio. Thunderstorms produced wind damage and five tornadoes mainly between 7:30pm and 10:30pm. A tornado also impacted the community of Ironton on the Ohio River in the southeastern part of the state. While the number of tornadoes and the time of year are not atypical for the Buckeye State, the generally south to north track the thunderstorms in Southwestern Ohio took Wednesday evening was. Bryan Wood, a Meteorologist and Storm Damage Analyst at Assurant, pointed out that this track has been taken by other tornadoes that moved near Dayton in the past including five on March 14th, 2016 and one in New Carlisle on April 27th, 2011.
The first tornado of the event occurred near Harveysburg in Warren County around 7:55pm. This tornado was rated an EF0, the lowest ranking on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, and had estimated winds of 50mph. The tornado briefly touched down in a field traveling a quarter of a mile before dissipating. The thunderstorm then moved north into Greene County where it produced non-tornadic wind damage including along highway 35 west of Xenia. As the storm was moving north, the high school graduation for Xenia High School was ongoing at the WSU Nutter Center. The ceremony, which was nearing its end, was interrupted and the building was locked down as the thunderstorm approached. Students were told to move off the floor and away from a large scoreboard that hangs overhead in the arena.
While the thunderstorm that moved across Western Greene County was responsible for most of the damage on Wednesday evening, a separate thunderstorm produced a tornado on the other side of the county. The second tornado of the event touched down near Octa, Ohio in Fayette County. This tornado touched down around 8:27pm and was rated an EF0 with estimated winds of 50mph. The had intermittent contact with the ground for three miles as it moved southeast to northwest into Eastern Greene County. Since the storm moved over mostly empty fields, little damage occurred.
The third tornado impacted Greene and Clark counties including Wright Patterson AFB. The tornado touched down in Fairborn at 9:07pm and moved close to the air force base before moving into Clark County where most of the damage occurred. Observers at Wright Patterson noted a tornado in their weather observation as the thunderstorm moved past them and ODOT cameras on Interstate 70 also showed the twister. The tornado lasted almost 10 minutes, traveled 2.5 miles and was rated a high end EF0 with estimated winds of 75mph.
As the thunderstorm continued moving northwest through Clark County, it dropped another tornado near the Miami County line. This was the strongest and most notable tornado and was rated an EF1 with estimated winds of 100mph. The tornado touched down on the western side of Park Layne in a commercial district along Route 235. Many businesses showed damage similar to a high end EF1 including a Family Dollar and Sunoco Gas Station. The tornado moved 3.8 miles into Miami County causing EF0 and occasionally EF1 damage.
As the thunderstorm moved northwest into Miami County, it began to interact with a band of showers and thunderstorms that ultimately led to its demise. Prior to dissipating, the thunderstorm produced a final EF1 tornado southeast of Piqua. The tornado produce estimated winds of 90mph and last around a minute with a path of only 0.35 miles. Mainly tree damage was observed though a barn was also shifted off its foundation.
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