12th anniversary of Blue Ash tornado

CINCINNATI -

Twelve years have passed since a deadly F-4 tornado struck Blue Ash.  The tornado killed four people making it the deadliest tornado in the Cincinnati area since the Super Outbreak of 1974.

The predawn tornado was part of a large thunderstorm system that spawned 54 tornadoes across the Midwest and Ohio River Valley. 

The tornado made its first touchdown at 4:14 a.m. EDT in Ripley County in Rexville, Ind. on April 9.  It was a F-1 on the Fujita scale but would be classified a F-3 just a few miles away as it moved northeast into Benham.  

Four mobile homes, one house and 21 barns were destroyed while four mobile homes, 28 houses and 20 barns were damaged.  Two livestock were also killed. 

The tornado then crossed into southern Dearborn County and weakened.  As a F-0 tornado it touched down to the northeast of Wilmington, Ind. near Aurora at 4:44 a.m. EDT. 

Four homes and a silo were damaged, while a barn was destroyed. 

The storm then crossed into Ohio and moved into Addyston at 4:54 a.m. EDT.  Here it is believed to have been a "gustnado" instead of a tornado. 

A gustnado is a shorter name for a gust front tornado and it is commonly mistaken for a tornado.  The rotating column of air however, does not extend all the way up to the base of the thunderstorm cloud and has more in common with a dust devil than a tornado. 

Gustnadoes can have the winds of a F-0 or F-1 tornado.  The gustnado in Addyston was ranked as a F-1 and destroyed one house and blew a roof off a garage.   

Just 16 minutes later, the storm would become deadly as it re energized and formed a F-4 tornado that touched down in Blue Ash near Reed Hartman and Pfieffer. 

Charles Smith of Loveland was on his way to work when his car was lifted up and tossed across I-71.  He was headed to Bob Evans at Pfieffer Road where he was the manager.

Jacque and Lee Cook were killed when the tornado's winds pulled them out of their house along Cornell Road while they were sleeping.  Their dog was later found with a broken pelvis tied to a Chevy Blazer.

The last death occurred westbound on I-275 near the Montgomery Road interchange as Donald Lewis of Blanchester was driving to work.  He worked in Evendale as a truck driver at Astro Container Company.

In Hamilton county, 91 homes and apartments were destroyed along with 37 businesses.  An additional 674 homes and apartments along with 44 businesses were left damaged. 

The tornado left a quarter-mile wide path of debris.  It would finally start to weaken as it moved into Loveland as a F-3 at 5:21 a.m. EDT and then as a F-2 in Deerfield Township at 5:33 a.m. EDT. 

The storm's last reported damage would be in Clinton county at 5:45 a.m. EDT where straight line winds were reported.

Eight tornado sirens were found to have failed during the morning of April 9 in Hamilton county.  Four had mechanical failures and four did not work because of power failures.  A reverse 911 system was also something that was considered after the tornado. 

NOAA weather radios were hard to find after the tornado and for several weeks stores were not able to keep stocked.  Radio Shack sold 800 hundred in just one weekend. 

An All Hazards NOAA Weather Radio is the best thing you can do to make sure that your family is warned when severe weather strikes at night and you are sleeping.  Sirens are not meant to be heard at night inside of your house and a NOAA Weather Radio is programmable for your individual county. 

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