Discover the Ohio Town Most Likely to Be Hit By a Tornado

Two tornadoes
© Huntstyle/Shutterstock.com

Written by Hailey Pruett

Updated: July 5, 2023

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Ohio isn’t the first state that comes to mind for many of us when we think of tornadoes. However, compared to most other US states, it still ranks fairly high on the tornado index overall. But what town in Ohio is most likely to experience a tornado? Let’s take a look at Buckeye State’s highest score on the tornado index, what that number means for the area, the history of the town, and some interesting facts about its community and local wildlife.

Sharonville, Ohio’s Most Tornado-Prone Town

According to USA.com’s ranking of United States cities’ and towns’ overall tornado index scores, the most likely city to be hit by a tornado in Ohio is Sharonville. Located in Ohio’s southwesternmost corner in Hamilton County just 13 miles outside of Cincinnati, it ranks 274.92 on the tornado index and has a population of 13,836. As part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area, it’s one of Ohio’s larger cities overall.

As a fairly small city measuring just under 10 square miles, Sharonville has a high population density. It averages 1,439 inhabitants per square mile. The city’s racial makeup is 79.7% white, 8.7% African American, 0.2% Native American, 4.0% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 4.1% from other races not listed here, and 3.0% belonging to two or more races. There were around 6,187 households overall within the city as of the 2010 census. The median age of its residents was 40.8 years old.

One of Sharonville’s most notable features is the Heritage Village Museum, a faithful recreation of an Ohio community from the 1800s. The open-air museum consists of 13 historic buildings from across the Cincinnati area that were moved there to prevent them from being destroyed. Among them are the Fetter General Store, originally constructed in the 1860s, and the Somerset Church, originally built in 1829.

It’s also worth noting that Sharonville’s Heritage Village Museum is located in Sharon Woods Park, one of Hamilton County’s oldest and largest parks spanning over 700 acres. As another key feature of Sharonville’s community, the park boasts a wide range of recreational activities like boating, hiking, fishing, and golfing.

Sharonville, Ohio, is part of the greater Cincinnati area.

©Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

What Sharonville’s Tornado Index Score Means

Now that we know a bit more about Sharonville’s demographics and its overall tornado index score, let’s explore what that number means for the community. According to FEMA, a tornado index score essentially ranks a city’s overall risk for experiencing a tornado when compared to the rest of the United States.

Now that we know a bit more about Sharonville’s demographics and its overall tornado index score, let’s explore what that number means for the community. According to FEMA, a tornado index score essentially ranks a city’s overall risk for experiencing a tornado when compared to the rest of the United States. 

With a score of 274.92, Sharonville ranks higher than any other Ohio community. It just slightly outranks the nearby towns of Glendale and Springdale, which are approximately six and eight minutes from Sharonville, respectively. Glendale and Springdale’s scores clock in at 272.14 and 270.18.

For reference, the town in Ohio with the lowest tornado index score is southeastern Ohio’s New Matamoras, with a score of just 39.02. Overall, cities located in Ohio’s western half tend to rank much higher on the tornado index. This is primarily due to their closer proximity to the Midwest’s Tornado Alley.

To put things in perspective, the US state with the highest tornado index score is Oklahoma, with an average score of 363.83. Out of all 50 states, Ohio ranks 17th overall with an average score of 156.02. The city with the highest tornado index score in the entire country is Valley Brook, Oklahoma, at a whopping 696.05. Overall, Oklahoma gets around 67 tornadoes per year, while Ohio as a whole experience around 19 per year.

Two tornadoes

Sharonville, Ohio has the highest tornado index score in the entire state.

©Huntstyle/Shutterstock.com

Interesting Facts About Sharonville, Ohio’s History

Before we explore some of Sharonville’s local wildlife and how tornadoes can affect them, let’s take a closer look at the unique city’s history. Historically, settlers first arrived in Sharonville in 1788, with the community going by the name Sharon at the time. It officially was incorporated in 1911 and got recognized as a city around 50 years later in 1962.

Notably, Sharonville has long been something of a transportation hub for the greater Cincinnati area. It was originally a stop for stagecoaches heading from Cincinnati to Lebanon shortly after its founding in the early 1800s. Later, in the 1820s, it also became a stopping point along the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected the town of Akron with the Cuyahoga River as well as the Ohio River.

In 1876, the town of Sharon became Sharonville, mainly to differentiate it from another similarly-named town in eastern Ohio. Today, the bustling city of nearly 14,000 people even has its flag, which it adopted in 1974. The town’s residents selected the flag based on a contest. 

Similar to the Ohio state flag, Sharonville’s flag has a pennant-style shape. Half of the flag is red, while the other half is blue. In its center is the outline of the state of Ohio, with a star marking Sharonville’s location. Besides the state outline is a round seal with the words “Sharonville: A City of Progress” circling an image of a blue train and 1788, the year of the town’s original settling. The train, of course, represents Sharonville’s rich history as a transportation hub.

Cuyahoga National Park

Sharonville, Ohio once was a stopping point along the Ohio and Erie Canal, which connected Akron with the Cuyahoga River, pictured here.

©Shriram Patki/Shutterstock.com

Wildlife Near Sharonville, Ohio, and How Tornadoes Affect Them

Before we wrap things up, let’s take a brief look at some of Sharonville’s most common wildlife, why they’re so important to the area, and how tornadoes might affect them. We’ll examine three unique species–a mammal, a bird, and a reptile–that are common within the Sharonville and Cincinnati region.

1. White-Tailed Deer, Odocoileus virginianus

White-tailed deer buck in snow

White-tailed deer are often affected by Ohio’s tornadoes, which can injure them and destroy their habitats.

©iStock.com/Lynn_Bystrom

The white-tailed deer is one of Ohio’s most common mammal species and, notably, the state’s only big game animal. True to its name, its sandy brown to reddish-brown fur is accented by a stark white tail. It also has white patches around the eyes, neck, belly, and legs. During their breeding season in the fall, white-tailed deer can be a hazard to Ohioan drivers, as they are especially mobile during this time.

Tornadoes can significantly affect the habitats, lives, and overall lifespans of white-tailed deer. Most devastatingly, particularly severe tornado seasons often destroy large amounts of timber. High winds and falling branches and trees often fatally injure deer in the process. Fortunately, the white-tailed deer and its 26 unique subspecies are not currently endangered or threatened with extinction. Their populations remain resilient even in the aftermath of especially destructive tornadoes.

2. American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos

American crow eating

The American crow is highly intelligent and surprisingly well-equipped for tornadoes.

©iStock.com/DanielLacy

One of the most common bird species native to the Sharonville and Cincinnati area is the American crow. This species has seen an increase in its numbers over the past few hundred years due to the clearing of many of Ohio’s forests. A heavy-bodied, substantial bird with a long, thick bill, it averages around 18 inches long.

Fortunately, crows–and most other bird species by extension–can keenly react to incoming storms and avoid them for the most part. Furthermore, as perching birds, crows can sort of lock onto branches with their feet. Their dense plumage also helps protect them from high winds and heavy rains. As highly intelligent birds, they are incredibly attuned to their surroundings. They can even “sense” tornadoes, fleeing from them before we humans ever see them coming.

3. Eastern Box Turtle, Terrapene carolina carolina

An eastern box turtle munches on a muscadine grape on the forest floor at Yates Mill County Park in Raleigh North Carolina.

Eastern box turtles are hardy when faced with Ohio’s tornadoes.

©samray/Shutterstock.com

Finally, let’s examine one of Ohio’s most beloved reptile species: the eastern box turtle. As a small and slow-moving species, these handsome turtles are often injured and killed by drivers who either do not see them or do not attempt to avoid them as they slowly cross streets that pass through their habitats. As one of six subspecies of the common box turtle, the eastern variety is Ohio’s most common. It lives throughout much of Ohio, aside from the state’s northernmost reaches.

Bizarrely, eastern box turtles are experts at weathering storms, even tornadoes! They’re very active in rainy, stormy weather, and they are expert navigators, often sticking to the same couple of acres of land for their entire lives. What’s more, because they can tightly pull their entire bodies into their tough, hinged shells, they essentially have a mobile shelter perfect for protecting them from high winds and debris. 

In short, with a possible lifespan of over 100 years, eastern box turtles are actually among the most well-adapted animals to tornadoes. Still, flying debris from tornadoes can occasionally injure or disorient them, particularly juveniles.

Where is Sharonville, Ohio Located on a Map?

Sharonville is tucked neatly away in Hamilton County, Ohio, and serves as a city within the state. According to the 2020 census, its population stood at 14,117 residents. Positioned approximately 13 miles away from downtown Cincinnati, Sharonville is an integral part of the larger Cincinnati metropolitan area.

Here is Sharonville, Ohio on a map:


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About the Author

Hailey "Lex" Pruett is a nonbinary writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering reptiles and amphibians. They have over five years of professional content writing experience. Additionally, they grew up on a hobby farm and have volunteered at animal shelters to gain further experience in animal care. A longtime resident of Knoxville, Tennessee, Hailey has owned and cared extensively for a wide variety of animals in their lifetime, including cats, dogs, lizards, turtles, frogs and toads, fish, chickens, ducks, horses, llamas, rabbits, goats, and more!

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