Small tornado damages Hockinson barn

By Eric Florip, Columbian Transportation & Environment Reporter and Patty Hastings, Columbian Social Services, Demographics, Faith



Mike Ginter helps collect pieces of his father', barn after a tornado-like wind tore the roof off, sending peices approximately 600 feet away and in to a field in Hockinson on Thursday.

Haley Phillips captured this image of hail falling from a strong spring storm near Hockinson Thursday afternoon.

A small tornado tore through a barn in Hockinson on Thursday afternoon as dark skies, hail and heavy rain swept through Clark County.

Irene Ginter was going to get a glass of water just after 4 p.m. at her home off Northeast 189th Street when she heard a loud crack. Looking out the kitchen window, she saw a rotating funnel touch down on top of the barn. Within 10-15 seconds, the funnel took most of the corrugated metal roof and half of the wooden barn with it.

“I looked out the window and there was this twirl, something rotating … and the roof was just flying all over the place,” she said. “I’m still kind of in shock.”

Mike Ginter was parking a tractor in his barn, south of his parents’ home, when he saw the roof fly up about 50 feet into the air and toss debris across the field to the southeast and northeast.

“I was wondering, ‘Where’s Dorothy?’ ” he said.

Nine black Angus cattle, spooked by the weather, ran south of the barn toward a wooded area.

Preliminary reports from the National Weather Service in Portland classified the tornado’s strength as an EF0 on the Fujita scale, with winds estimated at 60 to 85 mph.

Fire District 3 was dispatched to the home at 4:14 p.m. It assessed the structure and assisted the family in salvaging the contents of the barn spread out over a 10-acre area, said Deputy Chief Scott Sorenson.

Fortunately, no one was hurt and no other property was damaged.

“We’re going to have to clean it up,” said homeowner Don Ginter. “It will take some time.”

Mike Ginter drove through the field with his trailer, picking up splintered wood, sheets of metal and contents from the barn, including a saw and a trouble light fixture. A large section of the roof ended up near the road, while other pieces draped over the fence. The debris gouged the field, taking chunks of earth with it.

A metal sheet was wedged into a neighbor’s backyard, about 700 feet, or two football fields, away.

The Ginters will scrap the metal and burn the plywood, but aren’t so sure about replacing the now-collapsed barn.

“I don’t think it’s worth fixing,” Irene said.

About 10 years ago, their insurance company stopped insuring the barn, built in the early 1940s.

Last year, Mike Ginter worked on fixing up the barn, reinforcing the east side and foundation.

Don and Irene Ginter, both in their 70s, have lived in their home for 47 years and say they’ve never experienced such strong winds.

Heavy rain and hail fell from a menacing black sky before the incident, Irene said.

“I’ve never seen it stay black like that for so long,” she said.

Patty Hastings: 360-735-4513;;

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