‘Rare’ Tornadoes Reported During California Storm

‘Rare’ Tornadoes Reported During California Storm

Two tornadoes struck San Luis Obispo County, Calif., on Feb. 7, 2023. (Courtesy of National Weather Service Los Angeles)

Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

2/10/2024

Updated: 2/10/2024

Two tornadoes damaged parts of San Luis Obispo County in Central California, and another funnel cloud formed near San Diego during the strong winter storm that brought record rainfall to the state this week, the National Weather Service confirmed Feb. 9.
Although tornadoes are not unheard of in the Golden State, they are rare, and the atmospheric river system provided the right conditions for them this week.
“Obviously, tornadoes are not common [in California],” Mike Wofford, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Los Angeles told The Epoch Times. “It’s not something we see every day but certainly they’re possible anywhere. We just had the right conditions for it at that point.”
The San Luis Obispo tornadoes developed Feb. 7 over coastal waters and moved onshore about 4 p.m., bringing heavy rain, gusty winds, and hail. One tornado was in Grover Beach and the second was in the Los Osos area.
The brief Grover Beach tornado packed a wind speed of 95 miles per hour and traveled one mile, the NWS reported. The tornado tracked through Grover Beach, uprooting and toppling several trees, with some falling onto vehicles and powerlines.
Many businesses sustained damage, and the strong winds that came with the tornado buckled metal garages, according to the NWS.
In Los Osos, winds reached 95 miles an hour as the tornado traveled 5 miles, snapping several power poles and ripping the roof off a greenhouse, the weather service said.
These were the first tornadoes to occur in San Luis Obispo County since Feb. 2, 2004, and the strongest to occur in the county since 1950, according to a special statement issued Feb. 9 by the NWS.
In Chula Vista, about 10 miles south of San Diego, a funnel cloud formed but did not turn into a tornado, according to Brandt Maxwell, a meteorologist with the NWS in San Diego.
“There was a cloud starting to rotate,” Mr. Maxwell told The Epoch Times. “We could see that well on radar.”
The cloud formed around Chula Vista and moved north and northeast before dissipating over El Cajon, he added.
Tornado activity doesn’t occur often in San Diego, though the region has had some small twisters in the past. A small tornado touched down in Poway in 2000, one in Chula Vista in 2005, and one in the Ramona area in 2006, according to the NWS.
“They’re rare, but we get waterspouts occasionally just off the coast and sometimes they make it to the beach,” he said.
A waterspout at Cardiff by the Sea came ashore in 2007 and jostled some vegetation but didn’t do much damage, according to Mr. Maxwell.
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Jill McLaughlin

Jill McLaughlin

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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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