Severe weather preparedness discussed in wake of May 2019 tornado outbreak in Ohio


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio State University Meteorology Club hosted the 24th annual Severe Weather Symposium at the US Bank Conference Theater in the Ohio Union Friday.

The all-day event featured presentations that reviewed the meteorological conditions and hazard warnings issued during the May 27-28, 2019, tornado outbreak in western and central Ohio that spawned 21 tornadoes in the Buckeye State.

Emergency managers, meteorologists, students and the public were in attendance to review the dynamics and aftermath of a violent Memorial Day night in Ohio, as storms formed initially over Indiana and continued to develop eastward across Ohio after sunset, a particularly dangerous scenario.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Hatzos from the Wilmington office was one of the lecturers at the university symposium hosted by the Meteorology Club at Ohio State, with the stated goal to “pursue excellence in forecasting, research, and communication.”

Hatzos said of the Memorial Day Tornado Outbreak of 2019, “A lot of the tornadoes occurred at 10, 11, even midnight, and we want to make sure that people have a way to get warnings and get to safety.”

After nightfall, storm spotting becomes tricky, and the warning lead time late at night can be difficult, if people in harm’s way have already gone to sleep.

Brandon Peoquin, the Wilmington Warning Coordination Meteorologist, added, “The Memorial Day tornado outbreak is a reminder that preparedness can save lives, and with preparedness, we mean that everybody has multiple ways to receive warnings from the Weather Service.”

Speakers from National Weather Service offices in Wilmington and northern Indiana highlighted the ingredients that came together to produce the second-highest tornado outbreak in Ohio in a 24-hour span, that killed one person in Celina, 60 miles north of Dayton, and injured about 130 in the Dayton area.

Three tornadoes were rated EF3-intensity, and the strongest storm reached EF4 strength (170 mph winds), cutting a swath of destruction through Brookville, Trotwood, Dayton and Riverside, all in Montgomery County, Ohio.

Powerful supercell storms that hit the Dayton area moved into central Ohio after midnight, spawning several damaging tornadoes in Pickaway and Hocking counties, starting near Circleville. The strongest storm (EF2) in this group struck northeast of Laurelville in Hocking County around 1:20 a.m.

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