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Published: Monday, 6/7/2010

Tornadoes have hit region hard over recent decades

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The Palm Sunday tornado of April 11, 1965, swept across 10 miles of West Toledo and Point Place, leaving 310 families homeless. The Palm Sunday tornado of April 11, 1965, swept across 10 miles of West Toledo and Point Place, leaving 310 families homeless.
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While the Toledo area gets far fewer tornadoes than, say, Tornado Alley in the southern Plains states, such storms have not been strangers to northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, and occasionally they have been deadly.

Most notorious in Toledo's twister history is the Palm Sunday tornado of April 11, 1965, which swept across 10 miles of West Toledo and Point Place, killing 15 people, injuring 208, and leaving 310 families homeless.

It was the worst natural disaster ever to strike the city. Another 35 died elsewhere in Ohio and Michigan, including 20 in Lenawee and Hillsdale counties.

Ohio's deadliest tornado, on June 28, 1924, killed 72 along a path from Sandusky to Lorain.

On Nov. 10, 2002, a tornado flattened Van Wert Cinemas in Van Wert, Ohio. Employees heard emergency broadcasts and led movie-goers to the safety of restrooms moments before it struck. On Nov. 10, 2002, a tornado flattened Van Wert Cinemas in Van Wert, Ohio. Employees heard emergency broadcasts and led movie-goers to the safety of restrooms moments before it struck.
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On Nov. 10, 2002, storms killed five people in Van Wert, Paulding, and Seneca counties as tornadoes carved paths of destruction along dozens of miles. Debris from Van Wert was found 75 miles away in Toledo.

Many more area tornadoes, while not deadly, have caused widespread damage and injury.

Nearly 200 homes were destroyed, and 18 people injured, when a tornado touched down sporadically over a six-mile course near Nettle Lake in Williams County on March 27, 1991.

Thirty people were hurt, mostly near Port Clinton, by a tornado that clipped through Ottawa County's Perry and Benton townships in June, 1998, damaging a condominium complex and trailer park and knocking down high-voltage transmission towers near the Davis-Besse Nuclear Generating Station.

On July 12, 1992, a series of tornadoes left a path of destruction from Pettisville in Fulton County to Sandusky and beyond.

A Genoa man was struck by lightning, Anthony Wayne High School was severely damaged, and more than 30 buildings were damaged in Pettisville.

Van Wert County has been particularly susceptible to tornadoes in recent times. A tornado near Ohio City in 2006 caused extensive property damage along a two-mile path. Another in 1998 spawned over Hoagland Township before destroying a barn in neighboring Paulding County. And six people were hurt by a twister that touched down near U.S. 127 and State Rt. 81 southeast of Ohio City.

The Palm Sunday storm in Toledo was part of dozens of tornado-producing thunderstorms that stretched from Arkansas to Michigan, killing more than 250 people overall.

Other storms ravaged Lima, Tiffin, Bluffton, and Fremont and hit parts of Van Wert, Allen, and Mercer counties.

Five of the Toledo dead were the driver and several passengers on a bus that the New York Central railroad had chartered to go to Detroit because the main railroad line west from Toledo was blocked by storm debris. The bus was blown over on what is now I-75 by the tornado.

Six of those who died in Michigan were members of the same family, in Manitou Beach at Devil's Lake. A dozen people were killed in Allen County.

While spring tornadoes are relatively normal for the region, the November, 2002, storm was noteworthy for its midautumn arrival.

Damage was heaviest in Van Wert, where a meatpacking plant and a cinema were destroyed.

A man driving outside the cinema was killed when the twister tossed his car and ejected him, while another man died shielding his wife as it struck their house.

A couple in Continental, Ohio, also were killed when their mobile home was destroyed, and a Republic, Ohio man died when his house was flattened.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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