Wednesday, July 15, 2020
July 15, 2020

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Thursday’s storm brought tornado to Vancouver neighborhood

Damage limited and no injuries from low-rated tornado

By , Columbian political reporter

A low-grade tornado formed Thursday shortly after 3 p.m. in the Mount Vista Neighborhood near Washington State University Vancouver that brought tumultuous weather but left little damage.

Matthew Cullen, meteorologist with the Portland Weather Forecast Office of the National Weather Service, said that the tornado was rated EF-0, the least severe rating possible on a scale that runs from 0-5.

Cullen said the NWS assigned the rating to the tornado based on an assessment of local damage, which included some blown over fencing and damage to trees. He said there were no injuries the NWS is aware of and no damage to structures or roofs.

He said that the maximum wind speed was in the 60 to 65 mph range. The tornado moved along the ground for less than a mile and left a path of damage 25 yards wide.

A map issued by the NWS shows that the tornado formed near the southwest corner of the WSU Vancouver campus and followed a southeastward path that ended near Northeast 141st Street and Northeast 33rd Avenue.

A local man who only gave the name Pete said that the tornado formed a spiral in the air that sucked up tree branches nearby. He said the next day his yard was littered with tree branches ranging from 2 to 9 feet long that didn’t come from trees on his property.

“It was just windier than hell,” said Rod Johnson, another resident. “The rain was coming in sideways.”

Melissa Leady, another resident, said that she’s from the Midwest, and she didn’t see darkened sky or other hallmark features of a tornado.

“It wasn’t tornado weather, in my opinion,” she said. “We did have a couple of flower pots tipped over.”

Also on Thursday, an EF-0 tornado occurred in Aurora, Ore., that damaged an airport, Cullen said.

Cullen said that typically Washington will see one or two tornadoes each year. In Clark County, the most significant recent tornado was an EF-1 that occurred in Battle Ground in 2015, according to Cullen. On April 5, 1972, six people were killed in a tornado in Vancouver that wrecked a school, a bowling center and a supermarket. It remains the state’s most deadly tornado.