2/20/07 REPORTS: WA

Billy Griffin

Witnessed a very unique and unusual weather event for the Pacific Northwest. As the Seattle-Tacoma area suffered from a round of heavy thunderstorms this afternoon, I witnessed one of the most incredible sights for this part of the country... a series of funnel clouds (actually cannot verify tornado) just north of Mt. Rainier National Park !!! I could observe what appeared to be a small debris field directly underneath where the funnel appeared, but the condensation funnel was only 1/3 the way to the ground, at the most.

NOTE>>>>>>>> these photos ARE NOT in chronological order. Please note the EXIF data to note the time(s) for each photo, and for clarification, none of the photos are crops of the same. These are all individual photos.


small funnel cloud forms just south of my home, near Orting, WA at approximately 2pm. Rotation was visible, but not very broad. NOTE: the small funnel photo is cropped down significantly because I didn't have a zoom lens, thus, the poor image quality.


wide-angle view of a very low-topped, but still impressive, backsheared structure. Who would think it... February in Washington! I love it! Snow in the mountains, hail and cold air funnels in the valleys.


this is a unique feature within the storm, but I could not make out if it's a hail shaft wrapping around weak rotation. Again, this photo was taken BEFORE the one with the funnel cloud. Nothing I observed today was near that large nor intense, but I thought this photo was unique with the "volcano evacuation route" sign. Look out for Rainier, and all those tornadoes! :)


hail shaft visible, and pea size hail had completely covered the ground in most areas near Orting/Auburn/Puyallup. "Dead End" is right, the roads go up to the Carbon River entrance of Mt. Rainier, and that's it. It's a jungle up there!

* * * Finally got around to uploading the other photos. These are just some nice structure shots and I want to clarify, these were taken AFTER the funnel was observed. In other words, these structure shots are of the storm that did produce the funnel, but after it had traveled some distance to the east/southeast. Note, you can still see somewhat of a rain free base and lowering in the very far distance.


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As a follow up to questions about photos 1 and 6, here's what the EXIF data shows on the JPEG files off the camera card...

IMG_2468 was taken at 2:36:18 PM
IMG_2461 was taken at 2:35:20 PM

I am still not sure what that is in the first (#6) picture. It resembled a hail shaft that was doing something really funky in the winds. While no expert, I did have a theory that perhaps the surface winds were all getting stirred up in between the mountains (note mountains in the distance.)

Moments later, the second photo (#1 actually) was taken as a very brief and very small funnel cloud formed. Keep in mind, this thing lasted every bit of 10 minutes from the time I noticed it was a REAL storm until it was gone beyond the next ridge of mountains and out of view. The storm motion would have been to the right in the photos. The view is just off HWY 162 near the junction of Orville Road south of Orting, west of South Prairie, in rural Pierce country, WA.
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