Rare EF1 tornado touches down east of Los Angeles
The strongest tornado to touch down in the Los Angeles metro area since 1983 caused significant damage and injured at least one person.
A confirmed tornado struck the community of Montebello, just to the east of Los Angeles, on March 22, causing significant damage to a number of industrial buildings.
A rare California tornado injured at least one person, damaged more than a dozen buildings and sent debris flying when it touched down in a Los Angeles suburb late Wednesday morning.
On Wednesday night, the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Los Angeles confirmed that a tornado had touched down in Montebello, a suburb east of downtown Los Angeles, at around 11:20 a.m. PDT.
During the two to three minutes it was on the ground, the twister carved a 0.42-mile-long path, damaging 17 buildings, uprooting a tree and snapping a power line in half, according to the storm survey. The NWS confirmed the damage was consistent with an EF1 tornado, with estimated peak wind speeds of 110 mph. This is the strongest tornado to impact the Los Angeles metro area since March 1983.
Alex Gillman, a city spokesperson, confirmed that one person was injured from the twister and was taken to a hospital in Montebello, The Associated Press reported. Gillman was not aware of the extent of the person's injuries.
A teacher was sucked out of her classroom and knocked to the ground during the tornado in Montebello Wednesday, NBC Los Angeles reported.
In a cellphone video, the teacher could be seen standing near a door at Vail High School when one of the students told her someone had run outside. The teacher cracked the door open, and that's when a strong gust of wind flung it open, pulled her out and knocked her to the ground.
"Basically, she opens the door so she can get the student inside, and the entire door — she flies with the door, and it was absolutely crazy," one student told NBC Los Angeles.
Students could be seen helping the teacher up. NBC Los Angeles reported the teacher sustained minor injuries.
Michael Turner, a warehouse owner just south of downtown Montebello, told The AP that he called everyone inside after the skies turned ominous and the lights began to flicker.
"It got very loud," said Turner. "Things were flying all over the place."
Skylights were shattered, fire sprinklers broke, the gas line was severed, and a 5,000-square-foot section of the roof was ripped off of Turner's warehouse.
"I've been in California since 1965. Never seen anything like this," said Turner. "Earthquakes — we're used to that."
Damage to a building is seen Wednesday, March 22, 2023, in Montebello, Calif., after a possible tornado. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Rudy Garcia, a local gas station employee, told KTLA that he was working when the twister touched down.
"When I turned around, there was just debris, pretty much as high as a helicopter would be, super, super high," Garcia said to KTLA.
According to Garcia, the twister blew out a sign and the windows at the gas station.
The fire department went from building to building Wednesday after the twister lifted, putting red tape on severely damaged structures. At least 11 of the 17 buildings damaged by the tornado were deemed uninhabitable, ABC 7 reported.
Wednesday's tornado was not the only one to be reported in California this week. On Tuesday, the NWS confirmed that an EF0-strength tornado touched down in Carpinteria, located 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles. That twister, which had estimated winds up to 75 mph, hit a mobile home park and damaged about 25 homes.
Tornadoes are rare but not unheard of in California. On average, less than 10 tornadoes touch down in the state every year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, CNN reported.
Despite Los Angeles's rich tornado history, with several EF2 tornadoes, the last EF2-strength twister to touch down in the Los Angeles metro area was on March 1, 1983. The last EF1 to touch down in the area was on Jan. 1, 2010.
The tornadoes in California were spawned from a bomb cyclone that barreled through California earlier this week and left at least five people dead. The storm also delivered flooding rain, intense winds, heavy snow and severe thunderstorms to the storm-weary state.
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