Severe weather hits on 44th anniversary of devastating Xenia tornado

Severe weather hits on 44th anniversary of devastating Xenia tornado. (WRGT/WKEF)

XENIA, Ohio (WRGT/WKEF) -- Tuesday's severe storms come 44 years to the day, after a dangerous F-5 tornado swept through Xenia leveling much of the city and killing dozens of people.

For Catherine Wilson, April 3rd, 1974 is a day that will forever cast a dark cloud over her,

“44 years later I still have tornado dreams,” Wilson said, “I see it coming, but I can't get away,”

She was only 9-years-old, and her eyes were fixated out her home window.

“There was this big boiling cloud,” Wilson remembered.

An F-5 tornado was hurling toward her Xenia home. Her family was laying in a bathtub for protection.

“The glass was swirling and hitting all the walls, and the doors slammed because of the pressure,” Wilson said, “We look up and there’s a hole in the ceiling we could see blue sky.”

She said a purple towel plunged through the roof.

“It wasn't ours. It was from someplace else. We never figured out where,” Wilson said.

The whipping winds caused widespread devastation and shocking feats of strength.

“This quarter was embedded in this piece of wood and spilt it,” Wilson said.

33 people died in the storm, including a woman named Joyce D. Behnken. Her brother, Robert Marlin placed a flag where her home used to be.

“Because all the landmarks were gone, all you can see from the house is a slab,” Wilson said.

Wilson was shocked when FOX45 told her there was a chance for severe weather on Tuesday’s anniversary.

“Can't rule out the possibility of an isolated tornado, this is the only day this week like this,” FOX45 Meteorologist Greg Bobos said.

He called Tuesday's warm weather colliding with a cold front at night, a classic mix.

“You've got a lot of the chemicals set up there, and the ingredients you need to see severe weather. That's why we are forecasting this far in advance,” Bobos said.

It was Wilson’s worst nightmare.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off