Parts of region in mini tornado alley

The first weekend of June came to a close with the Miami Valley’s sixth tornado of the season.

On Saturday, an EF-0 tornado touched down just northwest of Richmond, Ind. according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington. There was also a weak tornado confirmed to have touched down Saturday just to the northeast of Columbus in Franklin County. Until this weekend, all of the state’s five tornado touchdowns in 2016 had been within about 30 miles of Dayton.

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It seems our area is prone to severe storms and tornadoes, and June is the peak of severe weather season in Ohio. Most of the largest tornadoes to hit Ohio since 1950 have touched down near or along the I-75 corridor. Since 2000, the largest tornadoes to hit Ohio have touched down in Greene, Van Wert and Wood County. All of these tornadoes had wind speeds estimated to have reached as high as 260 mph.

An area from central Illinois into west-central and northwestern Ohio is the third most active region for the most powerful, long-tracked (at least 25 miles) tornadoes rated EF3 to EF5 in the United States, according to research conducted by the Storm Prediction Center. In fact, Van Wert County has had the highest frequency of these large long-tracked tornadoes, more than anywhere in the Ohio Valley and Mid-Mississippi Valley.

Ohio has only had four F5 rated tornadoes since 1950, and two of those were in southwest Ohio. Both occurred on the same day, April 3rd, 1974. (The Fujita scale (F) was replaced by the Enhanced Fujita scale (EF) after January 2007.) This, of course, was the day of the infamous Xenia tornado. The other EF5 struck on the west side of Cincinnati in Hamilton County.

While research is still ongoing, it is likely the reason for an increased likelihood of these larger tornadoes may be due to microclimates and geographical location closer to the track of storm systems. Features such as terrain, urban heat island, and lake breeze locations could also play a role. Whatever the reason, while the tornadoes that touched down over the weekend were weak, it should be a good reminder that we should always be prepared for the worse.

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.