The state of Washington underwent massive amounts of damage on Thursday afternoon, as an EF1 tornado ripped through the area, leaving destruction and devastation in its wake. This was a rare occurrence, and this tornado ripped off roofs, shattered windows, uprooted trees, and downed power lines in the southwest Washington city of Longview. Thankfully, there were no reports of injuries due to the storm.
A team with the National Weather Service in Oregon estimated that the tornado was an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, and it is said that the tornado tore through a swath of 1.3 miles and the sustained winds accompanied with this storm were recorded from 86 mph to 110 mph.
Many residents of the city of Longview were in utter disbelief after finding out that a tornado had torn through their area. Emergency response teams and fire crews responded quickly to the area that was hardest hit and began looking for residents and cordoning off the area with the help of the National Guard, who has an armory nearby.
The Chief of Police in Longview stated that the full extent of the damage probably wouldn’t be known until Friday. The emergency response crews started quickly cleaning up under the pleasant sunny skies that followed the extreme windstorm during Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t only homes that this windstorm wrecked; it was also assisted living buildings, a towing company structure, and other commercial businesses as well.
Tornadoes are actually very rare in the state of Washington and in the Pacific Northwest in general, where the nearby Pacific Ocean usually prevents a severe change in temperature causing a tornado to occur.
A reverend with the local church in the area said that he saw the funnel cloud form and touch down near the church. He also said that he barely made it inside before the wind tore through an alley between two of the church buildings close by. The church itself did not sustain any damage, but several trees were knocked down nearby.
At a local appliance and sporting goods store, a large piece of roofing from another building crashed through a window and pushed a row of refrigerators a foot from where they were originally sitting. An employee with the store said that after the roof crashed through the window the wind was absolutely howling and was deafening. They then took cover as the back door was ripped off of its hinges and flown through the building. Luckily, no one in the store was hurt.
Many residents in the area did not expect a tornado to come ripping through their area. A man in the area watched the tornado lift his outdoor trampoline off of the ground. It flew right towards the man and went into the house, then back up and out of the roof and garage where it then flew down the block some.
Although tornadoes in the area are rare, a meteorologist says that one packing winds of 136 to 165 mph struck Vancouver, WA just across the Columbia River from Portland in April of 1972. Longview is only about 50 miles north of Portland.