The Aumsville Tornado

December 14, 2010

I’ve been in this business for 18 years.  Swam with sharks, jumped out of an airplane, and few through a hurricane.  It seems like I’ve seen it all here in the Pacific Northwest.  But today was a new experience…first time I’ve had to do live television (via phone), while flying down the freeway at 65 mph.  The wonders of cell phone technology…scary though.

I was headed out the door to go to work early at noon when the boss called.  A tornado?  It WAS one of those days where a meteorologist says, “I could see that happening today”.  A cold unstable airmass with lots of convection, strong directional wind shear.  This is classic “cold-air” funnel weather.  I’d say 50% of these days we get a picture from a viewer showing a funnel cloud.

But this time one actually touched down.  Quite a bit of damage and I think we have 3 or 4 crews down there.  Lots of scary stories of 4×4 lumber flying through windows and chairs through windows.  Amazing that no one was seriously hurt.  One thought on what I’ve seen so far…good lord, was everyone getting their hair cut in Aumsville today?

One more thing…we did receive a report from a man who says he recorded a gust to 138 mph on a La Crosse anemometer from Costco.  Says the gauge is still there, but tore out of the roof a bit.

6:30pm: 

NWS Official rates it an EF-2 with 110-120 mph wind.  That makes it only the 3rd-4th F2 or stronger tornado since 1950.  The F3 that hit Vancouver in 1972 just barely started in Oregon, that’s why I give that wishy-washy 3rd-4th phrase.  There was an F2 in Newberg in 1993, and probably an F3 or higher in the Wallowas in 1968 (no one saw it).  So this IS a big deal.

And most incredible…an EF-2 goes through Main Street of an Oregon city and one person gets a few scratches and another gets a bump on the head!  Wow…

And new info says the tornado touched down at least one more time NE of town (about 3 miles away).

10:30pm:

Of course it had to happen…looks like several of the TV stations may have been fooled by a fake tornado picture today.  We received an image similar to this one mid-afternoon and then this picture about 1 hour ago.  Notice anything funny?  How about the very green trees?  Or the wildly green grass?  It’s gloomy and gray December folks.  We used it only briefly around 2pm, then pulled it off the air.  This stuff adds to a crazy weather day.

11:00pm

And, mystery solved by fellow blog poster Paul in Eugene.  It’s the same picture of a tornado near Monroe, Washington last summer.  As Shauna pointed out…some people have a LOT of spare time apparently.