Remembering The April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak

Unless you’ve recently moved to the Tri-State, the words “March 2nd” probably trigger thoughts of tornadoes and severe weather. If you’re a long-time resident of the Tri-State, you’ll likely remember where you were on April 3, 1974. Often coined the “Super Outbreak,” April 3, 1974 was the date of the one of the biggest tornado outbreaks on record in this country and in the Cincinnati area.

11 tornadoes affected the Tri-State that day, killing 8 and injuring dozens. While it no longer stands as the deadliest severe weather day in the Tri-State on record (10 Tri-State deaths are blamed on the March 2nd, 2012 tornadoes), 5 violent (F4/F5) tornadoes occurred in Tri-State on April 3, 1974 (the most for a single event):


Note that one of the strongest tornadoes that day was also the deadliest, killing 36 and injuring over 1,150 people in Greene and Clark County, Ohio.

Locally, April 3, 1974 is often remembered for the Sayler Park tornado…a rare F5 that killed 3 people in Hamilton County. This is the only F5 or EF5 tornadoe confirmed in the Tri-State since official records began in 1950. While the Sayler Park tornado was the deadliest tornado in the Tri-State that day, there were numerous other strong tornadoes in the Tri-State on April 3, 1974:


Violent (F4/F5/EF4/EF5) tornadoes are rare in the Tri-State. The April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak is the only severe weather event since 1950 to produce more than 1 violent tornado:


Until the March 2, 2012 outbreak, the outbreak of April 3, 1974 held the record for the most tornadoes locally in a single day. Outside of April 3rd, only one other tornado was confirmed in the Tri-State in 1974. 1974 currently takes 2nd place on the list for the most number of tornadoes in the Tri-State and in a single year:


What are your memories of the April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak? Were you in Cincinnati? Did you see any of the tornadoes that day? Please leave your memories in the comment section of this blog or on social media (“Meteorologist Scott Dimmich” on Facebook, @ScottDimmich on Twitter, and as “Scott Dimmich” on Google+).

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4 Responses to Remembering The April 3, 1974 Super Outbreak

  1. Linda Beckman says:

    Went with co-workers to attend a viewing in Cincinnati. On the way, hail as big as baseballs was crashing onto the car we were riding in–frightening because I thought hail was going to break windows. While at funeral home, lights went out and looking out the window of the door, we could see traffic lights were not working. When I got home to our Fairfield apartment (no basement), things were still severe. Thank God my husband returned safely and we were not hurt. However, sad for many.

  2. Nancy says:

    I lived in Delhi and I was 13 yrs. old. I remember seeing the tornado from our front window. It was the scariest thing I had ever seen. I remember everyone running outside to see it, except me. Back then no one ever talked about tornados. I remember my Dad saying….not to worry, tornados don’t strike here. The next day he found out one of his best friends was killed in Sayler Park. It was a sad and scary time.

  3. Pam says:

    I lived in Sayler Park and was 7 years old when the tornado hit, We lived on Home City in front of Sayler Ave where most of the damage occurred. I remember the hail and going outside to pick some up and my grandmother and I put it in the freezer to show my mom when she returned home from taking my brother to the doctor. The hail had broken a window in my grandmother’s room in the back of the house and my father, grandmother, and I were looking at the broken window. I remember my father asking if we heard “that noise”, but I didn’t hear anything unusal (we could hear trains all the time that went pass the neighborhood on the tracks by Rt 50.) I do remember seeing the houses behind us just fall like a house of cards. I guess I was too young to realize what was happening, but I was bored looking at the broken window and outside and started walking toward the living room in the front of the house. My dad realized what was happening and yelled at my grandmother to “Grab her” and just as she did the back door flew in with all sorts of debris. I remember my grandmother sweeping up the dirt from the kitchen floor and trying to tidy up the house while I was in the living room helping my dad board up the huge front picture window that had blown in. We eventually walked down the street to the school to seek medical attention for my grandmother who needed 70 stitches in her leg and 20 in her arm from the cuts she sustained while grabbing me as the back door flew in. I had a scratch on my finger from the board I helped my father put up on the front window and while a medical assistant cleaned it a man took my picture and I was in the paper the next day as a “young tornado victim.”
    My mom and brother found us at the school and I remember that whole night we were ushered out of the gym/classrooms where we sat on cots to seek shelter in the basement of the school for the numerous tornado warnings through that night.

  4. Tom Birkley says:

    I lived on the KY side in Boone county on the hill across from Saylor Park OH. I was driving home from high school and saw the tornado to my right and about 2 miles away. Baseball size hail started falling but made it home and dad and I went to the basement. The tornado hit about a minute after we went downstairs and lasted maybe a minute. Our house had damage as all our neighbors did too. The F5 portion passed thru right up the street and just incredible damage! Several homes we reduced to a poured foundation showing and some plumbing pipes and that was all that was left. I’ll never forget that day!

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