MOUNT VERNON – The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for Knox County until 11 p.m. Friday, citing the possibility of "severe thunderstorms" and "damaging wind gusts."
"Current conditions have created a significant risk of a tornado occurring," a Knox Alert sent Friday at 4:07 p.m. read.
There are 26 counties under the tornado watch, which began at 4 p.m. They range from Butler County in southwest Ohio to Knox County in north central Ohio. Other nearby counties under the watch include Morrow County, Delaware County, Licking County and Franklin County.
The NWS issued a hazardous weather outlook for most of the state early Friday morning, in advance of strong storms that were expected to hit the state this afternoon and evening.
"The main threat today will be damaging wind gusts (of up) to 70 miles per hour that can lead to downed trees and power lines," the NWS stated. "Large hail to ping-pong-ball-size and an isolated tornado are also possible."
During a tornado watch, residents are encouraged to "review and discuss your emergency plans and check supplies and your safe room," the NWS states.
"Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching," the organization continues. "Acting early helps to save lives!"
Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur.
"The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states," the NWS states.
A tornado warning is issued if a tornado is occurring, or is expected to occur shortly, in an area.
Knox County experienced a tornado warning on June 27, 2020, but came away relatively unscathed. No tornadoes touched down, according to the NWS, although funnel clouds were spotted and power lines fell.
According to the website tornadoproject.com, which has catalogued every tornado in Ohio from 1950-2012, the last time a tornado touched down in Knox County was Aug. 3, 2006. One person was injured.
The National Centers for Environmental Information, which tracks current-day severe weather events, lists no recorded tornadoes in Knox County since that day.
To learn more about Knox County’s extensive tornado history, read this column written by Mark Sebastian Jordan in 2019.