A couple times each year we get a (usually) weak tornado in our viewing area. That’s SW Washington down into NW Oregon and east into most of Eastern Oregon. They may be uncommon, but definitely not unusual.
Back in March a weak tornado touched down near the mouth of the Columbia River, close to Ilwaco. That was an EF-0. Last night a strong thunderstorm tracked through central Clark County. As it passed west of Battle Ground and then ENE to Yacolt, radar indicated some decent shear/rotation. The NWS issued a severe thunderstorm warning around 7:30pm, just as a tornado finished tracking through the area. Here’s the view at 7:35pm
Soon after I heard from Tyler Mode, an avid weather “geek” and photographer from Battle Ground. He was watching the storm and recorded video of a tornado passing just north of the city. Check out his video…especially around the 1:10 mark: https://www.tylermodemedia.com/Weather/92721-Tornado-Battle-Ground/i-tKsZzwz Pretty exciting! Listen closely for the roar in the distance.
Shorty after seeing Tyler’s video, we received a great view from Gary Gerber. This video really shows the circulation, wind in the trees, and debris in the air. It doesn’t get much better than that in our area.
Once we saw these two videos it was obvious a tornado had touched down. The Portland NWS went out and did a storm survey today. Surprise! It was ANOTHER EF-0. This is from the NWS report
Every tornado in our viewing area the past three years has been rated an EF-0. Note there have been no tornadoes so far this year in Oregon.
But we still have three months to go! And autumn has been a good time for tornadoes in our area. It’s interesting that mid-winter and mid-summer have the lowest chance of tornadoes; probably because we don’t get many showery patterns in July/August. And in mid-winter the showers are weaker and thunder is more rare for inland areas.
Of course most of these tornadoes are weak. The vast majority the past 70 years have been in the EF-0 and EF-1 categories.
I often get two key questions about tornadoes:
Are there more tornadoes in the region than we used to see? Becoming more common?
The short answer is NO. Remember that 30 years ago almost no one was walking around with a camera attached to his/her hand (constantly). Now EVERYONE has a high quality camera just a second away from use. Think about it; there’s a good chance that in pre-internet times, the storm in Battle Ground wouldn’t have been noticed except by a few homeowners wondering why part of the tree is across their lawn. And how many of them would have taken the time to call the Portland NWS office? There’s a reason that almost all reported tornadoes in the PACNW have been in populated areas. And the actual reported numbers have not increased dramatically either.
Is there some reason Clark County seems to attract tornadoes? A new “Tornado Alley”?
YES & NO. We have seen a couple of significant tornadoes in Vancouver (2008) and Battle Ground (2015) the past 20+ years. Those two were the most destructive. Other weaker tornadoes touched down in Salmon Creek (2017), Orchards (2017), east of Battle Ground (2013). The only deadly tornado on record in the Pacific Northwest was the F-3 that tore through Vancouver in April 1972, killing 6. A great study by Dave Elson at Portland NWS found that horizontal rolling of the southwesterly flow coming off the Tualatin Mountains (West Hills) may contribute to increased frequency downwind of that NW to SE topographic barrier as you can see in this image.
You can find his presentation here: https://www.ametsoc.org/chapters/oregon_archive/Minutes/2008/2008_11_20_Minutes_Powerpoint1.pdf
But no, there’s no new “tornado alley” developing in our area.
That’s it for now. Enjoy the (mainly) dry weather Wednesday. After more showers Thursday, October starts with 4-5 dry days.
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen
12z has A 970mb low moving into the Olympics on the 16th, well see.
Sure is fun to look at.
Would be awesome if this verifies. Looks like we have wet weather pretty regularly even if it doesn’t.
Those thunderstorm cells were super intense. I headed out from Battleground with the girlfriend around 6pm toward Portland.
Holy hell, going down 205 the Glenn Jackson Bridge was where we encountered such a cell. I’m so thankful the person behind me started to back off as I tapped the brakes sensing trouble almost toward the bridge.
I noticed the rain intensity was abruptly increasing and NOT normal. The cell itself was turning day almost to night, no joke. Also noticed on a turn that there was water just streaming down sideways all over the lanes….
Dropped from 60mph to 40mph. No joke a second later I hit a pool and water shot all over my car in height and there was a gridlock in front of me. Still determined to keep pace but dropping speed simultaneously with the traffic, all in confusion, I found us stuck at 22 ~ 24mph. At this point we were on the bridge. A lot of people also at this point were repeatedly changing lanes trying to get away from the standing water.
Not kidding, the bridge, was a river with cars on it. My windshield wipers on max still looked like someone was holding a water hose at my windshield, on full blast. I did not see a single thing except the semi-truck outline next to me and the halo of the taillights in front of me. That’s it. No high beams, slowing down, nothing was increasing visibility. Total chaos and honestly put air in my tires to specification not a day before.
I’ve never been more scared in my life driving and I’ve driven in snowstorms as they were peaking, black ice on turns in the countryside and hydroplaned into concrete walls on freeway onramps. This was total insanity in that nothing could be done.
Entirely had to trust the engineering of that bridge to expel the water. Civil engineering respect gained. Good grief.
What do you mean by “not normal”. Seems really melodramatic to me.
No tornado expected here, but plenty of rain overnight. This will be my wettest September on record. What a year we’ve been having- record heat and now record rainfall. Wonder what’s next?
Slightly below average precip fall with lots of mid or lower 70s, snowy and cold winter, warm spring, and normal summer, That’s my favorite kind of weather!
Well, I hope this works!! If it does, inside the circle is the hook signature I was talking about.
Well, so much for trying that. I wish it was easier to upload images 😕
I actually prefer them as links so they don’t clog up the comments section and force me to scroll so far down for responses.
You did awesome calling this out when you saw it! I think we’ll be on the lookout for this type of thing in the future thanks to you. Great work
Models suddenly turned much chillier for the next 10 days. Hard to believe KPTV was forecasting 80 degree temps for the weekend. Now it’s looking like those mid-70 degree temps they revised to may not happen either.
As a side note, yesterday was the first time I turned on the heater since March.
Turned ours on for the first time yesterday since around then too!
We’re waiting until at least Oct. 1 before we turn the heat on in our house (that’s always my goal, and with the warmish Septembers we’ve had recently, that hasn’t been too hard to achieve). Last night was kind of chilly inside the house, though.
I wait till December to turn on the heater, we aren’t really in a cold climate, but that’s just how my temperature sensitivity is. But I rarely use the heater, because I have a fireplace.
Well it’s la Nina again you know what that means another record warm winter just like last year since every la Nina is warmer then the previous one.
Tim, sometimes you are such an annoying person in these comments. and also what you said was not true at all, in late July when the la nina winter started looking more likely, I commented the data I looked into for la Nina’s, out of our warmest repeat la nina’s, the 2nd year always ends up colder, also the south pacific waters are colder than last year, Although I’m not saying it couldn’t be warmer than last year, but for how confident you are for something that does not match up at all with conditions, you had to be corrected. I understand you are trying to not get your hopes up, but it’s pretty annoying.
I’m not trying to be difficult I’m just stating the facts that most la nina’s have been trending warmer since they been keeping records as well as el nino’s it’s no secret, last winter was the warmest la Nina on record for us, correct me if I’m wrong.
Yes it was the warmest la nina last year (probably, but I don’t want to look into it) But that has nothing to do with this la nina, especially because it’s a colder ocean setup this year, and the blob is a decent amount more west this year which will make a big difference. cean temperature anomalies this year
And then there is 2020, have to scroll down a bit for pic
Different link and map, but that was all I could get for last year, but the point is, the hottest spot in the blob is 2300 miles farther away from us than last year, unlike last year, most important part of South America coast has below average water temperature unlike last years above average, the part of the blob affecting us most is 1 Celsius cooler than last year. You may notice in last years picture the overall ocean was a bit cooler than now, thats because it was in late October which that extra month makes a big difference since that’s when the ocean cooling is most rapid, but by that time this October it will be cooler than last year.
My point is, there is no reason this winter will be warmer than last winter, but technically since anything could happen in weather, it could be warmer than last winter, but conditions don’t back it up being a thing likely enough thing to happen that its worth talking about. Correct me if I’m wrong.
Auto correct turned my miss spell of december into October, ignore that. i also said extra 1 month difference instead of extra 3 month difference. My point was it’s cooler than last year
So glad to see those 80’s disappear!!!!
Thanks for the summary, Mark.
And good job spotting that one, Ken!
Thanks, can you post the link so I can upload the screenshot of the radar that has the tornado hook signature? Thanks
After your image is uploaded, select the option for “HTML full linked” from the dropdown. It should show a bunch of HTML code, you just want the part INSIDE the “quotation marks”
Example — ” https: // i. ibb. co/ k87Ls2Y/ autumn-leaves-196054 . jpg” (spaces added to show code, do not include “quotes”)
The link will automatically post as a photo.
Great presentation Mark—as always! And great videos from Tyler and Gary. In my forever (Oregon) years, I have witnessed similarly at least twice (but no video😒.) Even FF-0’s are awesome! Gotta say too that as a kid, I remember witnessing the ominous dark cell that migrated through the Valley, before manifesting as the record EF-3 in Vancouver a short while later. Some things, one never forgets!
Thank you for the update Mark. I couldn’t believe I saw the hook signature of the tornado on radar. I guess watching The Weather Channel has helped…lol
You were the first to point it out!
Thank you for pointing it out 🤗 when I posted that I thought it could be a tornado, I felt I could be wrong and I most likely will have egg on my face but then there were reports of a possible tornado. I felt much better about the post…lol. I just couldn’t believe it showed up on the radar. I wish I could post the screenshot I have of the tornado hook signature. If someone knows how to do that, then I can post it. Thanks