Two tornadoes confirmed on Oregon coast; 128 homes damaged in Manzanita
A tornado barreled through the small coastal community of Manzanita Friday morning, leaving behind torn roofs, damaged homes and destroyed businesses. Thousands are without power, while utility crews prepare for an even worse storm Saturday.
The National Weather Service based in Portland said its preliminary data confirmed the tornado was an EF2 and had maximum winds of 125 to 130 mph. It said the tornado traveled on the ground for almost three quarters of a mile and at its maximum was 225 yards wide.
The tornado touched down in Mazanita around 8:20 a.m. City officials say one home and two businesses were destroyed and 128 other homes were damaged. A third of the town's trees were downed during the storm.
A second tornado was confirmed in Oceanside about 40 minutes later, according to the National Weather Service. No damage or injuries have been reported in that area, mostly because the tornado only briefly touched down on the beach.
"This can all be repaired... the trees will grow, the house we can fix, but you can't put a human life back together when it's gone," Manzanita resident Steve Brennan said.
In all, the NWS office in Portland issued 10 Tornado Warnings Friday morning -- shattering their all-time record of 2 in the same day. Their last Tornado Warning was Nov. 23, 2014.
There are dozens of trees down, blocking main roads and highways in Manzanita, a small town of about 600 people. Power is down throughout rural Tillamook County and the City of Manzanita's mayor has declared a state of emergency. That's necessary for the beach town to get federal disaster money.
County Sheriff Andy Long says the tornado was about "10 streets wide." Tornadoes aren't expected in the area again, but the coast will be hit with damaging wind storms throughout the day Friday and Saturday.
Debbie Harmon, owner of the Amanita Galley in Manzanita, said most of the damage is near the beach and downtown.
"It was a normal beach storm, which we get a lot of, and then out of nowhere the wind went 'whoooo,' she said. "Suddenly the whole sky was filled with debris. It was just crazy. And then it just stopped."
Julee Ward, who lives between Manzanita and Nehalem, said she awoke to violent thunderstorms and an eerie, dark sky. Her husband went outside to check on things after 8 a.m. and called for her to come out.
"Behold there was this big tornado flying about a mile away from our house," she said. "There was debris flying everywhere ... you could see the debris up in the funnel."
Video shot by her husband showed a massive funnel spilling down from dark clouds above.
"You could hear it howling too, which was the crazy part," she added.
Sheriff Long says visitors should avoid traveling to the coast this weekend to allow for cleanup. People who own homes in the area can call city hall and be placed on a list for a home check. That process should take several days.
Portland General Electric reported that more than 4,000 customers were without power at 5 a.m. Friday. Pacific Power reported that 2,800 customers in coastal communities had no lights, down from a peak of more than 15,000.
Portland had the rainiest Oct. 13 in its history. The National Weather Service says a 103-mph wind gust was recorded at Cape Meares.
No tornadoes are expected to touch down in the Portland metro area, though residents should expect high winds, heavy rain and possible power outages.
This is the third tornado-producing storm in the county's history dating back to 1950, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most destructive of which was a tornado back in 1975 in Tillamook that left behind $2.5 million in property damage. It's the second costliest tornado in Oregon history.
The state of Oregon has seen 106 tornadoes since 1950, but only four of these tornadoes were rated higher than F1 of the Fujita Scale. Just one tornado caused enough damage to receive an F3 rating, and that tornado was responsible for all six recorded tornado deaths in the state's history.