By JOHN ANTCZAK and CHRISTOPHER WEBER (Associated Press)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A rare tornado touched down in a suburb of Los Angeles on Wednesday, ripping the roofs off a line of commercial buildings and sending debris twisting through the sky and through a city block, injuring a person.
The National Weather Service sent crews to assess the damage in Montebello and later confirmed that a tornado had touched down around 11:20 a.m.
“It’s definitely not something common in the area,” said meteorologist Rose Schoenfeld of the weather service.
One person was injured and taken to a hospital in Montebello, said Alex Gillman, a city spokesman. He did not know the severity of the injury.
Michael Turner could hear the winds getting stronger from inside his office in the 33,000 square foot (3,065 square meter) warehouse he owns just south of downtown Montebello. When the lights started flashing, he walked out to find his employees staring up at the menacing sky. He brought everyone inside.
“It got very noisy. Things were flying everywhere,” Turner said. “The whole factory became one big bowl of dust for a minute. Then when the dust settled, the place was just a mess.
No one was injured, but the gas line was severed, fire sprinklers snapped, all skylights were shattered and a 5,000-square-foot (465-square-meter) section of roof was ‘just gone’ “, said Turner. He said his polyester fiber business, Turner Fiberfill, could be shut down for months.
“I’ve been in California since 1965. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Turner said. “Earthquakes – we are used to them.”
Debris was strewn over more than a city block. Inspectors checked 17 buildings in the area, and 11 of them were labeled red as uninhabitable, according to firefighters. Several cars were also damaged.
The rare and severe weather came amid a strong late-season Pacific storm that brought damaging winds and more rain and snow to saturated California. Two people died on Tuesday as the storm swept through the San Francisco Bay Area with powerful gusts and downpours. An on-duty San Francisco police sergeant was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a tree fell on him Tuesday, the department said.
The Weather Service also sent assessment teams to the town of Carpinteria, Santa Barbara County, where it confirmed a tornado struck a trailer park on Tuesday, with gusts reaching 120 miles away. hour that damaged approximately 25 homes.
The last time the Los Angeles Weather Service office sent tornado assessment teams was in 2016 near Fillmore in Ventura County, where it was determined that a small tornado had touched down , said Schoenfeld.
A radar-based tornado warning was also issued Tuesday evening for the Point Mugu area west of Malibu. The warning was later rescinded, and the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that there was no evidence a tornado had touched down.
The storm was shrinking across California from north to south while pushing inland through the southwest, the Four Corners region and the central and southern Rockies, the National Weather Service said. On Tuesday, some residents of north-central Arizona were told to prepare to evacuate due to rising waters in rivers and ponds.
The wind and rain chaos from San Francisco Bay south to Monterey Bay on Tuesday was caused by an extraordinary drop in barometric pressure over the eastern Pacific that meteorologists described as an “explosive cyclogenesis”. .
“Wow. Even by the standards of what turned out to be one of our most amazing winter seasons in a very long time, yesterday…stands out,” wrote the Bay Area weather bureau.
Trees and power lines were downed. Windows were blown out of two skyscrapers in San Francisco, NBC Bay Area reported. The ferry service was interrupted because the conditions were too difficult. Three barges broke loose and damaged a bridge.
An Amtrak commuter train carrying 55 passengers hit a downed tree and derailed near the East Bay village of Porta Costa. The train remained upright and no one was injured, Amtrak and firefighters said.
Five deaths have been attributed to the storm. In the Bay Area community of Portola Valley, a man driving a sewer truck was killed when a tree fell on the vehicle, the California Highway Patrol said. And in the community of Rossmoor, a driver was injured and a passenger died after a large tree fell on a car, the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District said.
In Oakland, a man inside a tent died Tuesday night after a tree fell near Lake Merritt.
Two people also died Tuesday at Zuckerberg General Hospital in San Francisco while receiving treatment for injuries sustained in separate storm-related incidents, according to city officials.
In the Monterey Bay area, Santa Cruz County was blasted with gusts of up to 80 mph (129 km/h). Along the shoreline of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, ocean foam blew over the roads like large snowflakes.
Some 82,000 customers were without power Wednesday night across the state, according to PowerOutage.us.
The National Weather Service said Tuesday’s storm, which came on the first full day of spring after the state’s extraordinary winter, was a Pacific low pressure system interacting with California’s 12th Atmospheric River since late December. .
California’s unexpected siege of wet weather after years of drought also included February blizzards fueled by arctic air.
The storms triggered flooding and loaded the mountains with so much snow that roofs were crushed and crews struggled to keep highways free from avalanches.