Tornado outbreak of April 23, 2020
Tornado 876.jpg
A picture of an EF5 tornado striking New Albany, Ohio.
Type: Tornado outbreak
Active: April 23, 2020
Duration of tornado outbreak1: 10 hours, 29 minutes
Maximum rated tornado2: EF5 tornado
Highest winds 220 mph tornadic (New Albany, Ohio EF5)

81 mph non-tornadic (Fremont, Ohio)

Tornadoes confirmed: 83
Damage: $11.3 billion (2020 USD)
Injuries: 534
Fatalities: 89
Areas affected: Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky

1Time from first tornado to last tornado
2Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

On April 23, 2020 a large outbreak of tornadoes impacted Ohio, eastern Indiana, and northern Kentucky. It is the largest outbreak in Ohio's history, including 56 tornadoes in the state. An EF5 tornado that struck the Columbus, Ohio area, doing extreme damage in the suburb of New Albany. The damage in New Albany has been considered some of the most intense of all time, and the outbreak is one of the most intense the region has ever experienced. The event left 89 people dead and cost $11.3 billion.

Meteorological synopsis

Preceding severe weather

Before the main severe weather event on April 23, a local severe weather event impacted Illinois on April 22. No tornadoes occurred with this activity, but one person was injured when a strong wind gust knocked a tree onto their home. Damage from severe wind gusts also occurred on the campus of the University of Illinois during the late evening hours. The activity dissipated by midnight, therefore not affecting the setup on April 23 in any way.

April 23

A powerful trough moved east into the Midwest, and the Storm Prediction Center placed Ohio and eastern Indiana under a 30% risk area on April 19 with their day 5 outlook. This was upgraded to a moderate risk with the day 3 convective outlook, and the NWS Wilmington area forecast discussion noted the possibility of a large-scale tornado outbreak in the region. Model guidance on April 22 also hinted at this possibility, and by the morning of the April 23, the SPC upgraded to a high risk across much of Ohio, extreme east Indiana, and northern Kentucky. A rare 45% tornado risk area was centered over central Ohio, and a large outbreak of significant and long-tracked tornadoes was anticipated. Very strong shear overspread the risk area thanks to a 110 knot jet streak and strong southerly surface winds; 0-3 km SRH reached 500-550m2/s2 in many areas across Ohio, with some locally higher values. As such, hodographs were forecast to be extremely favorable for violent tornadoes. Widespread MLCAPE values of 3,000 j/kg, low 70°s dew points, and temperatures in the low 80°s meant that there would be plenty of instability for storms to develop and sustain themselves. Supercells fired along a cold front in eastern Indiana as early as 12:30 PM that day and quickly became tornadic. As the storms moved east, the supercells matured and became prolific tornado producers in extreme east Indiana and western Ohio. A long-tracked EF4 tornado originated near Richmond, Indiana, and carved a 68.3-mile path of destruction until it dissipated near Urbana, Ohio. Further east in central Ohio, an incredible severe weather setup was in place. A PDS tornado watch had been issued for the high-risk area early in the afternoon, and around 2:30 PM, supercells began to mature ahead of the main line of already existing supercells along the cold front. These new storms instantly became tornadic and produced several strong to violent tornadoes in central Ohio. An EF4 did significant damage in Plain City, Ohio. During the same time frame, the worst event of the day was unfolding. Around 3:43 PM, a tornado touched down just outside of Franklin County in far eastern Madison County, tracking northeast. It went on to move just south of downtown Columbus and directly impacted Gahanna and New Albany as an EF5, then dissipating northeast of Johnstown. Activity continued eastward into the late afternoon with several more significant tornadoes occurring before tapering off before sunset. The high number of intense (EF3+) tornadoes makes the outbreak incredibly impressive and among one of the most severe the region has ever experienced.

Tornado Statistics

83 16 30 21 12 3 1

Outbreak Death Toll
State Total
Ohio 86
Indiana 3
Totals 89
Tornadoes By State
State Total
Ohio 56
Indiana 16
Kentucky 11
Totals 83

Confirmed tornadoes

April 23 Event

List of notable tornadoes - April 23, 2020
Time of Origin (UTC)
Path length
EF4 Richmond to Verona to NE of Urbana (OH) Wayne, Preble (OH), Darke (OH), Miami (OH), Champaign (OH) 1701 68.31 mi 5 Deaths - See section on this tornado high-end EF4 tornado did violent damage in Verona, Ohio.
EF2 NE of Redkey to Portland Jay 1709 10.51 miles This strong tornado touched down northeast of Redkey, Indiana, and moved through mainly rural areas in its lifetime, producing high-end EF2 damage to the farm homes it did impact. The tornado weakened and moved into the town of Portland, doing EF1 damage there.
EF2 Ossian to Woodburn Wells, Allen 1718 26 mi This tornado formed near the triple point fairly early on in the outbreak. Initially damage was weak, but as the tornado moved northeast, high-end EF2 damage occured southeast of New Haven in Fort Wayne's suburbs. Near Poe, an entire mobile home park was destroyed. The worst damage occurred west of Maples, as three homes on East Tillman Road were destroyed, losing much of their roofs and exterior walls. The tornado then weakened and dissipated near Woodburn.
EF3 N of Modoc to SE of Saratoga Randolph 1734 16.83 mi 3 deaths - Tornado initially moved through rural areas of Randolph County producing some damage to trees. It hit a few homes, but only did EF1 damage. As the tornado approached the southern side of Winchester, however, it grew into a large stovepipe tornado, producing mid-range EF3 damage to several homes in town, leaving only interior walls or bathrooms remaining. A large warehouse building was completely destroyed at mid to high-end EF3 strength. The tornado rapidly weakened and shrunk, and continued northeast. A small area of EF2 damage was noted just before tornado dissipated southeast of Saratoga.
EF3 Hamilton to N of Bloomingburg Butler, Warren, Clinton, Greene, Fayette 1736 58.84 mi 1 death - This intense tornado was spawned from a supercell along the cold front in southwest Ohio. The storm had formed in far eastern Indiana, and rapidly developed as it crossed into Ohio, with a very favorable environment ahead of it. A tornado warning was put on the storm when it was in southwestern Butler County, and shortly after a tornado touched down near Hamilton at 1:36 PM EDT. It did EF0 and EF1 damage to subdivisions east of Hamilton, and EF1 to EF2 damage to homes south of Monroe. The tornado crossed into Warren County and snapped some trees as it moved through rural areas. The tornado then moved through a subdivision north of Lebanon. EF3 damage was observed to about 10 homes, all of which had only a few walls left standing. Cars from the residences were also thrown or rolled short distances. The tornado moved back into very rural areas, and trees were slightly debarked. The twister took a slight east turn, and moved into northern Clinton County. As the tornado crossed over I-71, a person who was seeking shelter under and overpass died from flying debris. The tornado then switched back to its northeasterly path and moved through rural areas again. The tornado clipped southeastern Greene County, crossed I-71 again, then entered Fayette County. At high-end EF3 strength, the very small community of Octa was wiped off the map. No one died in the town, but every structure was completely destroyed. Three houses were leveled. Moving back into rural areas, the multi-vortex tornado danced for a little longer before weakening and dissipating in open areas north of Bloomingsburg. The supercell that spawned the tornado produced very large hail later in the day in southeastern Franklin County.
EF3 W of Piqua to Quincy to Bellefontaine to Marion to S of Mansfield Miami, Shelby, Champaign, Logan, Marion, Morrow, Richland 1807 101.87 mi 2 deaths - See section on this tornado incredibly long-tracked, intense tornado impacted numerous cities along the path, including Bellefontaine and Marion, where it caused severe damage.
EF4 Moraine to Beavercreek to London Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Madison 1837 43.2 mi 14 Deaths - See section on this tornado violent tornado did damage in Beavercreek, with the worst damage occurring to a small subdivision north of Alpha.
EF3 Lima Allen 1856 7.67 mi This relatively short lived, narrow, yet intense tornado did significant damage to the eastern side of Lima. The tornado touched down on the southern side of Lima, from the same supercell that produced the Jay County, Indiana EF2 tornado. A tornado warning was issued about 8 minutes before this tornado touched down in southern Lima. The tornado rapidly intensified, doing EF3 damage to homes and businesses in eastern Lima, with estimated wind speeds of 150 mph. Many homes were completely destroyed, being left with only a few interior walls. A bowling alley lost its entire roof. The tornado then exited the city and persisted for a few more miles before dissipating southwest of Beaverdam. 14 people were injured.
EF3 Milford Center to N of Kilbourne Union, Delaware 1911 29.53 mi The supercell that produced the Richmond, IN to Urbana, OH EF4 tornado cycled and produced this EF3 tornado. The tornado almost immediately did EF3 damage to a home that had its exterior walls collapsed. It grew into a large stovepipe, and a PDS tornado warning was issued for Marysville. The EF3 tornado ripped through the southern side of Marysville destroying many homes. Trees were debarked east and northeast of the city, and debris from homes in Marysville was scattered across fields a few miles northeast of town. It then passed north of the small community of New Dover. While in mainly rural areas, the structures that were hit suffered EF2 and EF3 damage. The twister moved into Delaware County and moved north of Ostrander. It destroyed a few farms and moved northeast through rural areas, then entered Delaware. Passing through the west and north sides of the city, it did mid to high-end EF3 damage to several subdivisions. Some poorly anchored homes which were nailed to their foundations were flattened. EF0 to EF2 damage continued as it moved out of the northeast side of Delaware, and eventually dissipated just before crossing into Morrow County.
EF2 S of Chillicothe Ross 1923 12 mi Heavily rain-wrapped tornado stayed in rural areas. Trees in its path were denuded and snapped, and a few trailer homes were destroyed.
EF4 Choctaw Lake to Plain City to E of Delaware Madison, Delaware 1935 34.06 mi 4 deaths - See section on this tornado - high-end EF4 tornado that went through Plain City and did incredible damage.
EF5 W of Harrisburg to New Albany NE of Johnstown Madison, Franklin, Licking 1943 42.12 mi 51 deaths - See section on this tornado considered to be one of the most violent tornadoes in recorded history. It impacted much of the Columbus metropolitan area, as well as John Glenn International Airport, Gahanna, and New Albany, where damage well into the EF5 range occurred. It is also the costliest tornado on record, costing over $5 billion in damages. It is the deadliest tornado to impact the state of Ohio.
EF3 Worthington to SW of Hartford Franklin, Delaware, Licking 1957 20.33 mi The same supercell that produced the Moraine to London EF4 tornado cycled, and put down another intense tornado in northern Franklin County around 4:00 PM EDT. The tornado did EF2 damage shortly after touching down in Worthington. Moving northeast, the tornado intensified, and did low-end EF3 damage to a few homes on the western and northern side of Westerville. Incredibly, no one was killed, and only 20 were injured. The tornado crossed over the Hoover Reservoir, doing EF2 and sporadic EF3 damaged to homes in rural areas of southeast and eastern Delaware County. The tornado began a weakening trend as in entered northwest Licking County, and eventually met its demise southwest of Hartford. It had a max width of about 1/2 mile and was on the ground for 20.33 miles. It lasted about 30 minutes and cost $600 million dollars.
EF3 SW of Utica to N of Warsaw Licking, Knox, Coshocton 2050 27.5 mi 7 deaths - The same supercell that produced the New Albany tornado cycled and put down another intense tornado further northeast. The tornado touched down at 4:50 PM EDT in rural areas southwest of Utica in northern Licking County. The tornado moved northeast and passed through the northern side of Utica. EF2 damage occured to many homes that were impacted by the tornado. The tornado entered rural areas and expanded to about 1/2 mile wide. Low-end EF3 damage was noted to some homes in the path, with estimated wind speeds of 140 mph. The tornado plowed through the town of Martinsburg, doing EF3 damage there and killing 3 people. The tornado continued northeast, slightly debarking trees, then and entered Bladensburg. A school was severely damaged and every structure in town suffered some degree of damage, the worst of which was rated EF3. 4 people were killed in town.The tornado tossed a pick up truck 100 yards on the east side of town before entering rural areas. Homes and farms suffered EF2 damage, and then the tornado crossed into Coshocton County. EF0 and EF1 damage occured in very rural areas, and the tornado eventually dissipated north of Warsaw around 5:24 PM EDT.
EF2 Wadsworth to northern Akron to Kent Medina, Summit, Portage 2145 23.69 mi This tornado was spawned from the same supercell that produced the long-tracked Piqua to Mansfield tornado. After that tornado lifted, the supercell persisted northeast and produced another strong tornado about 1 hour and 10 minutes after the Piqua-Mansfield tornado lifted. Low-end EF2 damage occurred almost immediately after the tornado touched down no the southwestern side of Wadsworth. Several houses were severely damaged with EF1 and EF2 damage noted in Wadsworth. The tornado moved northeast and entered Summit County. A tornado emergency was issued for Akron at this point. The tornado passed through northern Akron at high-end EF2 strength, heavily damaging numerous businesses, apartments, and industrial areas. The tornado continued through heavily populated areas of eastern Summit County doing EF1 and EF2 damage to homes and businesses before crossing into Portage County and dissipating near Kent. Very large hail fell in Medina shortly before the tornado touched down.
EF2 Cynthia to Maysville Harrison, Robertson, Mason 1945 32.2 mi EF0 and EF1 damage occurred initially. The tornado grew to about 1/4 mile wide and moved through extremely rural areas of northeast Harrison County, before slamming Mt. Olivett in central Robertson County at EF2 strength. The tornado exited the town, then entered Mason County, doing EF1 damage with some sporadic EF2 damage before dissipating near the town of Maysville just before crossing the Ohio River.

Notable tornadoes

Verona—Tipp City, Ohio

This long-tracked, violent wedge tornado touched down in Richmond, Indiana around 1:01 PM EDT. The tornado caused mainly EF1 and EF2 damage as it moved through Richmond and eastern Wayne County and into western Ohio, as several houses and businesses were damaged. Low-end EF3 damage was noted to a few homes south of New Paris, Ohio, which lost their second stories or were left with only interior walls left standing. In West Sonora, a car was tossed 200 yards and trees were debarked. The tornado intensified further as it moved into Verona, where high-end EF4 damage occured with several homes being flattened or swept away, and some ground scouring occured. Cars were tossed long distances and trees were completely debarked, twisted, and snapped. 5 people died in the town. The tornado continued to produce high-end EF3 damage and low-end EF4 damage between Phillipsburg and West Milton, where more homes were completely flattened or swept away, although most of them lacked anchor bolts. More EF4 damage was noted in Tipp City, with two poorly built homes being swept away with debris being pushed off their foundations, and several other homes and businesses being completely destroyed. The tornado then began to weaken and turned slightly more northeast, moving through Urbana at EF0 intensity before dissipating northeast of town at 2:39 PM EDT.

Quincy—Bellefontaine—Marion, Ohio

This extremely long-tracked, high-end EF3 tornado, with estimated wind speeds of 165 mph at its peak, began west of Piqua at 2:07 PM EDT. The supercell that spawned the tornado initiated ahead of the cold front, and was the first supercell to do so. The tornado began as a narrow, weak tornado and did damage to rural areas west and north of Piqua. It exited Miami county, and rapidly intensified. Now a large, multi-vortex wedge tornado 1/2 mile wide, the tornado moved through very rural areas of southwest Shelby county. A few farms were hit, however, and were leveled or completely swept away, earning a high-end EF3 rating. After clipping the northwest corner of Champaign County, the small town of Quincy took a direct hit, with nearly every structure in town being damaged. A high-end EF3 rating was applied there, too, as poorly constructed homes were completely leveled. The tornado continued northeast, doing EF2 to EF3 damage to homes south of De Graff. A tornado emergency was issued for Bellefontaine at 2:54 PM EDT. The tornado plowed through the south side of the city, leaving only interior walls standing and leveling a few homes again at high-end EF3 strength. The tornado persisted through very open rural areas, and because it wasn't rain-wrapped, it offered chasers an incredible view of this intense tornado. It did not hit many structures until moving west and north of Richwood, where high-end EF2 to low-end EF3 damage was noted to homes. Continuing through rural areas, the tornado weakened and produced EF1 damage to the few homes and trees in its path. Around this time, a PDS tornado warning was issued for the southern side of Marion. The tornado reintensified and became wrapped in rain, making for a very dangerous situation. Numerous homes on the southern side Marion were left with only interior walls standing, resulting with an EF3 rating there. A department store had its entire roof peeled back resulting in two exterior walls collapsing. Several injuries occurred inside. 2 deaths occured in a home that was poorly constructed. The very small community of Claridon was impacted at EF2 strength, but northeast of the small town trees were denuded and debarked, and again an EF3 rating was applied. The tornado weakened from there on, producing predominantly EF2 damage until its demise south of Mansfield. This tornado likely would have earned a higher rating had it hit more structures on its 101.8 mile path. It was on the ground for roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Beavercreek/Alpha, Ohio

This supercell formed ahead of the cold front, and did so earlier and farther west than others that formed ahead of the front. With the very favorable environment it formed in, the supercell matured quickly and put down a violent tornado soon after. Touching down at 2:37 PM EDT, the tornado moved out of Moraine and into Dayton's southeastern suburbs, and rapidly intensified, doing EF3 damage to homes and businesses, with 1 person being killed in a car while driving, unaware the tornado was upon them. The tornado continued northeast, entering Greene County, and doing EF2 and EF3 damage to homes in its path. On the northern side of Beavercreek, low-end EF4 damage was noted to a few homes that were reduced to piles of rubble. The most widespread EF4 damage, while only low-end EF4, occured in a subdivision a few miles north of Alpha, where 13 people were killed, all of them in their homes. The houses there were reduced to piles of debris or were partially swept away. The tornado then entered rural areas of northern and northeast Greene County, where scattered debris was found in fields and trees were denuded and debarked. The tornado moved into Clark County, and didn't hit any significant structures until making a direct hit to the town of South Charleston. Low to mid-range EF4 damage was found there. 11 were injured in the town. The tornado weakened and did EF2 damage to the very small unincorporated community of Florence, and dissipated near London. The tornado tracked 43.2 miles, killed 14, and was on the ground for just over an hour, with a max width of 3/4 mile.

Plain City, Ohio

Shortly before the Columbus tornado touched down, a powerful supercell north of that one put down another violent tornado. The tornado touched down at 3:35 PM EDT near Choctaw Lake in western Madison County. It began moving northeast through rural areas, but was visually violent. It was a large wedge, and scoured some grass and debarked trees. It leveled the homes that were in its path, and low-end EF4 damage was found southwest of Plain City. As the tornado entered Plain City, it did incredible damage. Numerous homes in a subdivision of southwest Plain City were completely leveled or almost swept away. Three homes with anchor bolts were swept away leaving open basements, but contextual discrepancies prevented a rating higher than high-end EF4. 4 people died in Plain City. The tornado moved back into rural areas before moving through areas south of Jerome, where low-end EF4 damage was noted. The tornado crossed into Delaware County, and did high-end EF4 damage again, this time north of Shawnee Hills, where numerous houses were completely leveled and partially swept away. Debris was wind rowed and large objects were thrown long distances. It crossed the Scioto River, produced EF3 damage in northern Powell, and then began to weaken, producing mainly EF1 to EF2 damage for the remainder of its path. It eventually dissipated in a field east of Delaware.

Columbus—New Albany, Ohio

Extremely violent and devastating EF5 tornado. The tornado began in extreme eastern Madison County, Ohio, on what would go on to be an 42 mile path. The tornado touched down at 3:28 PM EDT, moving northeast at 40 mph out of extreme east Madison County. It entered southwest Franklin county, doing mainly EF0 damage to trees. It caused EF1 and EF2 damage to homes as it passed north of Grove City, and then did high-end EF2 and some EF3 damage on the south and east sides of Urbancrest. 3 deaths occured there, where a family was trying to outrun the tornado in their car. The tornado continued producing mid to high-end EF3 damage as it kept on its northeasterly path. The tornado then entered the southern side of Columbus, and a tornado emergency was issued. EF4 damage to homes and businesses was widespread, and 23 people died in that area. Homes and businesses were completely leveled in southern Columbus, in a wide swath of destruction. The tornado continued and took a slight turn north, then continued on its northeasterly track. It went through Bexley where widespread EF3 and EF4 damage occured, with numerous well-built homes completely leveled. Two old homes were swept away in Bexley. The Columbus International Airport was impacted next; the terminal was spared, as only the western half of the runaways were impacted. The cement on the runways had been scoured away, and significant ground scouring occured around the area. Then, at high-end EF4 strength, the tornado moved into Gahanna, leveling or sweeping away several well-built homes and businesses. Several vehicles were hurled long distances and crushed, and in some cases were wrapped around debarked trees. 10 deaths occured in Gahanna. Widespread EF4 damage continued as the tornado ripped through residential areas and moved into New Albany. Homes in the New Albany Country Club area were first. At EF5 strength, entire rows of well-built brick homes with extensive anchor bolting were completely swept away, leaving only open basements. In a few cases, cinder blocks of basement walls were sheared off at ground level.

Damage well into the EF5 range to a well-constructed home in New Albany. Note that cinder blocks were sheared off of basement walls at ground level.

Damage surveyors estimated winds to be 220 mph, something they had never done. Now two miles wide, the tornado continued producing EF5 damage as it went directly through the center of New Albany. Everything in its path was either leveled or swept away completely. Deep ground scouring occured, as well as significant wind-rowing of debris. Debris was very finely granulated. Trees were completely debarked and reduced to stumps. Cars were tossed hundreds of yards and crushed beyond recognition, and a smaller vehicle was never located. The New Albany Links residential area was next, where EF5 damage continued, and numerous homes were reduced to nothing but slabs or open basements. A satellite tornado did EF1 damage to the Tidewater at New Albany community around that time. The tornado then exited New Albany, weakening to a low-end EF4, before producing EF5 damage one last time to two large, well-built homes in extreme northeast Franklin County, both of them being swept away completely. 15 people died in New Albany. The tornado crossed into Licking County, where ground scouring occured and trees were debarked in rural areas. The tornado entered Johnstown, producing EF2 and EF3 damage, before weakening and turning north. The tornado dissipated at 4:37 PM EDT. It had a maximum width of 2 miles and cost and estimated $5.2 billion (2016 USD), and is regarded as one of the most violent tornadoes ever. It was also the first EF5 to strike the United States since the 2013 Moore, Oklahoma tornado.
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