COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio, confirmed at least six separate tornado touchdowns occurred between 1 and 3 a.m. Saturday.

An unusual convergence of tropical Pacific and Gulf moisture along a strong cold front and interaction with an upper-level disturbance triggered the unprecedented late night autumn tornado event.

Two storms touched down briefly west and north of Hillsboro, in Highland County in the southwestern part of the state around 1 a.m.. Two tornadoes with the same supercell struck around South Salem in Ross County, and another was confirmed near Frankfort, about a half-hour later.

An EF1 tornado hit just north of Kingston about 2 a.m., packing 110 mph and traveling 2.7 miles, damaging several properties, including a two-story home that had the roof lifted off and debris scattered across Wolfe Road. The same storm was responsible for a pattern of straight-line wind damage that felled or snapped trees farther east around Tarlton in southwestern Fairfield County.

Most of the tornadoes were relatively weak and narrow with short paths. There was one minor injury in the EF0 storm that touched down briefly west of South Salem.

However, an EF2 tornado just to the east around 1:30 a.m. took the roof of a home, which caused walls to collapse, and another small structure was moved off its foundation. Top winds were estimated at 115 mph winds by the NWS, with a path 100 yards wide.

A formative tornado on Doppler Radar in Highland County, west of Hillsboro, the first in series of confirmed touchdowns associated with a disturbance that spawned a supercell, or rotating thunderstorm that tracked up the middle Ohio Valley. The wind estimates were aloft, but storm winds did exceed 100 mph in several vortices on the ground.
The couplet, where red and green come together in velocity mode, indicate developing rotation west of Hillsboro. Winds blowing toward the Wilmington radar site (green) and away (red) produced considerable wind shear, or shifting/stronger winds with height.

Additionally, NWS offices in Cleveland and Pittsburgh confirmed tornadoes touched down in Sandusky, Guernsey and Muskingum counties. The tornado northeast of Philo in Muskingum County that struck shortly before 4 a.m. was rated EF1 and had a large width of 350 yards.

According to Storm 4 Meteorologist Ben Gelber’s records, this is the second greatest number of tornadoes in an October event, after 2010, which saw 11 on a single day; and is unprecedented for so late at night in the fall. 

Gelber said Ohio experiences October tornadoes on average in three out of every 10 years. The last October tornado in the state occurred in 2018 in Athens County.