California hit by the strongest tornado in 40 years

At least one person was injured after a rare tornado struck a city southeast of Los Angeles on March 22, local officials said. Writes about it CNN.

Photo: IStock

The National Weather Service confirmed that the tornado "briefly touched down" an industrial park and warehouse district in the city of Montebell. Its experts rated the tornado as an EF-1 with an estimated maximum wind speed of 110 miles (177 km) per hour - it is the strongest tornado to hit the Los Angeles area since 1983.

The "intense tornado" damaged at least 17 buildings, 11 of which were so badly damaged that the fire department deemed them too dangerous to use, according to Michael Chee, the city's public information officer.

“There was flying debris and stuff,” one person tweeted, sharing a video of the storm.

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The tornado brought down the roof of one building, broke a power pole, threw an HVAC unit off the roof of a building, smashed sunroofs, damaged vehicles and uprooted a 1-foot-wide (30 cm) pine tree, the weather service said after assessing the damage.

Tornadoes are rare in California, averaging less than 10 per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Most of them in the state are small and short-lived.

They are usually called tornadoes. They are different from more traditional tornadoes, which form from rotating thunderstorms like those common in the Central Plains and the Southeast. While ground tornadoes can cause damage, they are generally not extensive or severe.

A weak tornado hit a mobile home park in Carpinteria, a seaside town northwest of Los Angeles, on March 21. The service rated it EF-0 with winds of 75 miles (120 km) per hour.

The tornado damaged 25 mobile homes in Sandpiper Village and caused minor damage to trees in a nearby cemetery.

Video of the Montebello storm shows a swirling cloud of black debris as the roof of a nearby building is blown off. Vehicles can be seen with damage and broken windows.

“The roof was blown off this building,” says a witness, pointing to a parking lot full of damaged cars.

“This is what you see in Ohio, Arkansas ... Not in Montebello,” another witness echoes him.

This unusual phenomenon comes as California has been hit by at least 12 atmospheric rivers in recent months, bringing devastating floods and gale-force winds. An atmospheric river is like a fire hose that carries saturated air from the tropics to higher latitudes, dropping heavy rain or snow.

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At least five people have died as a storm hit the San Francisco Bay Area as strong winds lashed cities, knocked down trees and power lines. City of San Francisco officials said its 911 call center had four times the usual number of calls during the peak of the storm. 

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