01/10/08 DISC: WA/OR

Jul 18, 2004
Westport, CT
Well, this was quite the tornado event for SWrn WA state this afternoon around the noon hour. KATU is still streaming live coverage on their website four hours after the fact; some of the aerial footage of the damage to Vancouver, Clark County, WA is pretty impressive (E-F1+?).

The Columbian: "Tornado causes damage to in Fruit Valley, Hazel Dell, Orchards"
The Oregonian: "Tornado rips through Clark County, toppling trees, tearing roofs"
KING-TV(NBC-Seattle): "Widespread Damage as Tornado hits southwest WA"
---------------------- pictures: "Viewer Submitted Images"

Hmm...just heard on that live stream that kids at one area middle school were evacuated to the gymnasium at the time of the TOR.

Just an FYI, the Vancouver area was struck by a severe tornado about 35 years ago, which was responsible for six deaths and roughly 300 injuries, including more than 70 at an area elementary school.

More on the 1972 tornado below.
The Columbian: "History"
HistoryLink.com: "A severe tornado strikes Vancouver, Washington, killing six and injuring more than 300, on April 5, 1972"
NWS Portland: Past Tornadoes
KPTV-TV(FOX-Portland): "Tornado Stirs Memories of 1972"
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The KATU feed is reporting that the NWS has confirmed an E-F1 tornado with peak wind speeds of 90-110mph. The path width was one-quarter mile (440 yds), with an initial path length of two miles; the same tornado touched down again in eastern Clark County. Thankfully no injuries, but it is quite apparent from some of the stories/experiences being reported on by KATU that many people were quite shaken up by today's tornado. One of the most remarkable stories I've heard in the last hour was from a Salvation Army worker who was outside when the tornado struck, dove for cover in a dumpster as it approached, and had the charms sucked right off of her charm bracelet.

I will post the damage survey results as soon as the PNS is issued by the Portland WFO.

EDIT: Here's a link to the preliminary storm report for today's tornado. Apparently this was issued before my post and I just hadn't hit refresh lol - oops.
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My sister lives in Vancouver, and has been giving me updates all day. It touched down really close to her apartment. She didn't see it, as she was at the university at the time and didn't even know about the tornado warning. Sounds like there's mostly a lot of tree damage, though some roofs badly damaged or torn off. She also said there was quite a bit of hail in some areas.

Apparently the weather reporters (I won't even call them forecasters, as they don't sound like actual meteorologists) haven't heard of the Enhanced Fujita scale. She said all day they were talking about what they thought the tornado might be rated, such as an F1 or maybe even up to F3. Then this evening, when the NWS officially rated it an EF1, my sister told me the weatherman said "okay, they have this new rating system that's kind of goofy, they're calling it an EF1 which is essentially an F1..." Excuse me? I know they may not have had any tornadoes to rate in the northwest for the past year, but if this guy was worth his salt as a weather reporter, even if he isn't a meteorologist, I'd think he might have heard of the EF scale. Or at least to not comment on it being a goofy system that is essentially the same! >eye roll<

The KGW news station (apparently KATU is the better one) weather reporter showed a picture of a low hanging cloud and called it a tornado (clearly no funnel or even touching the ground).

Okay, rant over. I have to remember this is Washington. :)
Spending half my time in WA, the other half in OK, I find it terribly frustrating to watch the weather coverage in Washington. If it doesn't affect the traffic, they have no interest in anything weather-related. (grrr)

I've actually found that severe weather isn't all that unusual in the Pacific NW - it just either goes unreported or no attention is given to it via the media. I've witnessed a few unique events near Seattle, and the Vancouver area is historically a little "hot spot" for tornado activity... perhaps some local terrain-influenced enhancement with the Columbia River Gorge and the relatively flat terrain near the mouth of the Columbia ?????
...the Vancouver area is historically a little "hot spot" for tornado activity... perhaps some local terrain-influenced enhancement with the Columbia River Gorge and the relatively flat terrain near the mouth of the Columbia ?????

I've been surprised by the tornado reports I've seen in southern Washington over the past few years. As I recall, some of the activity was pretty consistent--i.e. two or three days in a week or so.
A very detailed damage map has been posted on the WFO Portland website. I'm actually not sure I've ever seen one quite like this; each structure damaged/affected has been marked with a colored dot, with several different levels of damage delineated. Props to those who put this together.