Damages suffered in early morning tornado

Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil
A tornado on Feb. 28 damaged several buildings at the Ohio State University’s Molly Caren Agriculture Center, home to the annual Farm Science Review, on U.S. Route 40 outside of London.

(Posted Feb. 28, 2024)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

According to reports, a tornado tore through Madison County in the early morning hours of Feb. 28, causing damage to homes, barns, outbuildings, and more. The damage was severe in several cases, including major damage at the Madison County Airport. As of early afternoon that day, there were no reports of injuries.

Madison County Sheriff John Swaney reported that the National Weather Service notified the Sheriff’s Office shortly after 5 a.m. with the report of a possible tornado. The radio room also received several 911 calls. Swaney said that, in the process of going out to check out the situation, one of his deputies ended up involved in the tornado and radioed that he was in it. The deputy was not hurt, Swaney said.

“The tornado then hit a house in Summerford and destroyed it, then moved east toward the airport where it demolished one entire hangar and severely damaged several others and some planes,” Swaney said.

He reported that the tornado then traveled across U.S. Route 40 to the grounds of Ohio State University’s Molly Caren Agricultural Center, home of the annual Farm Science Review, where it damaged and destroyed several buildings.

“Continuing east, it leveled a house on Lafayette-Plain City Road just north of Lafayette, also damaging electric poles and trees in the area,” Swaney continued.

From there, he said he doesn’t know if the same tornado moved or another one developed, but a tornado touched down in the Glade Run Road area, south of U.S. Route 42.

Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil
This home on Wilson Road, northwest of Lilly Chapel, was one of several Madison County homes the tornado rendered uninhabitable.

“It continued eastbound, damaging numerous structures, like barns and yard barns and trees. Then it destroyed another residence on Wilson Road,” Swaney reported. “It continued east toward Franklin County, damaging some structures. Once it got to Roberts Road and Plain City-Georgesville Road (on the Franklin/Madison county line), it destroyed another house.”

Swaney said he is thankful no injuries were reported as a result of the tornado and storm.

“We’re thinking that everyone took shelter in the center and lower areas of their residences due to the tornado sirens going off,” he said.

To handle the volume of calls coming in, the Sheriff’s Office centralized all units and had staff come in early, ahead of their normal shifts.

“We were able to respond to the calls that we were getting, offering assistance and aid to the residents who needed it,” Swaney said.

Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil
Sheet metal is shown caught high up in pine trees along Gregg Road.

The Sheriff’s Office, Madison County Engineer’s Office, and West Jefferson post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol worked together to close roadways where needed for safety reasons and to aid the power companies in getting into certain areas to fix damage and restore power.

“We’re continuing to respond to any calls that we may get or damage reported,” Swaney said on the afternoon of Feb. 28.

Deb Sims, director of the Madison County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), reported that she and Holly Langham, deputy director, went out to the hardest hit properties to provide assistance where needed. They were accompanied later that morning by representatives of the Ohio EMA to assess damages to the area. Sims also reported that representatives of the National Weather Service were scheduled to visit the county on Feb. 29 to make assessments.

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