A tornado in Southern California damaged dozens of structures, snapping beams and ripping off roofs

A tornado in Southern California damaged dozens of structures, snapping beams and ripping off roofs
Photo by Ash Hayes / Unsplash

Micaela Vargas stood in front of her Kia Telluride, which she'd parked near her workplace in Montebello on Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, Vargas, who lives in Whittier, did not appear to be able to drive the vehicle home.

A massive, leafy section of a tree had been thrown on top of her car and several others by a tornado that had touched down in the area Wednesday afternoon.

A dark funnel cloud was seen forming over the Montebello area on social media, with debris flying hundreds of feet into the air. A Montebello building's roof was ripped off, several others were damaged, and a 1-foot-diameter tree was completely uprooted.

The twister touched down near a warehouse yard on Vail Avenue in Commerce on Wednesday. Wind speeds peaked at 110 mph as the storm traversed 0.42 miles, damaging 17 buildings and injuring one person. The tornado ended near Washington Boulevard in Montebello.

The National Weather Service stated on Wednesday evening that the devastation was caused by a two-to-three-minute tornado. Following the incident, one person was confirmed injured.

According to the weather service, 11 buildings, mostly industrial, were red-tagged, indicating that they were unsafe to occupy, and six more sustained damage. The unusual event also sent an HVAC unit soaring through the skylights and snapped wood crossbeams.

On Tuesday, a "weak" tornado touched down in Carpinteria, according to the National Weather Service. It had winds of up to 75 miles per hour and was rated EF0 on a scale of 0 to 5.

The Montebello event, which happened at 11:14 a.m. Wednesday, was stronger, with winds reaching 110 mph. There are one or two tornadoes on average per year in the four-county area of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties, and seven to ten on average across the state.

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Tornadoes formed in Carpinteria and Montebello after recent storms pushed cold air high into the atmosphere, causing it to destabilize. This resulted in thunderstorm cells, which began to rotate and eventually became tornadoes.

Although Smith and her colleagues saw powerful thunderstorms brewing over the ocean Tuesday night, predicting when a tornado is imminent is difficult. The incident occurred at the Sandpiper Village mobile home park in Carpinteria and injured one person.

According to the weather service, the tornado damaged approximately 25 mobile home units and caused minor tree damage to the cemetery adjacent to the mobile home park.

The tornadoes are the culmination of a period of extreme weather in California. A rainy and stormy Tuesday set local daily rainfall records, including 1.53 inches at Long Beach Airport, which broke the previous record of 0.82 inches set in 1983.

Downtown Los Angeles received 1.43 inches of rain, breaking a 130-year record set in 1893. Although roadway flooding, debris flows, and strong winds were reported, the region fared better than the San Francisco Bay Area, where at least five people were killed.

Flood warnings were in effect from Oxnard to San Diego, including much of the Los Angeles Basin, until Wednesday afternoon. Isolated showers and a brief chance of thunderstorms were expected to fade throughout the day. High temperatures in Los Angeles were forecast to stay in the 50s — about 12 to 18 degrees below normal — and were expected to stay in the 50s — about 12 to 18 degrees below normal.

A winter storm warning was also in effect in the San Bernardino Mountains until 5 a.m. Thursday, with wind gusts of up to 60 mph and up to 14 inches of fresh snow possible. Blizzard conditions trapped hundreds of residents earlier this month, resulting in more than a dozen deaths.

Snowfall totals in recent years have been a fraction of those seen during that historic event. The San Bernardino County Department of Public Works recorded 10 inches of snow in Big Bear, 7 inches in Crestline, 11 inches in Lake Arrowhead, 14 inches in Running Springs, and 22 inches in Green Valley Lake from Tuesday to Wednesday morning.

Officials said crews planned to continue clearing roads during and after the snowfall. Forecasters predict that the rest of the week will be cool and dry in Southern California, but there is a chance that more rain will fall across the state as early as Monday.

Written by Christian Martinez, Brennon Dixson, Hayley Smith, Deborah Netburn for The Los Angeles Times


All rights belong to The Los Angeles Times which is solely responsible for all content.

This article originally appeared in SoCal tornadoes damage dozens of structures, snapping beams and ripping off roof. 2 hurt

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