A tornado that ripped through a portion of Montebello, tearing rooftops from some industrial buildings and leaving 17 structures damaged, was the strongest recorded in the Los Angeles area since 1983, the National Weather Service announced today.
One person suffered minor injuries when the twister hit around 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, focused generally in the area of Washington Boulevard and Vail Avenue, in a largely industrial district.
NWS officials said Thursday the tornado was rated as EF1, with winds of 110 mph. That made it the strongest tornado recorded in the area since an F2 twister in March 1983. The last time an EF1 tornado occurred in the area was in January 1998 in Long Beach.
Thursday’s twister was the first tornado to be recorded in the Los Angeles area since an F0 tornado occurred in December of 2014 in Inglewood, according to the NWS.
F0 is the weakest level on the tornado rating scale. EF1 is the second-weakest rating, although with winds of 110 mph, the Montebello twister nearly reached the EF2, or “strong,” level. An EF2 tornado has winds between 111 and 136 mph.
Forecasters said Wednesday’s twister was 0.42 miles long and 50 yards wide.
NWS officials noted that 17 structures were damaged, including one that suffered a nearly total roof collapse. Multiple cars were also damaged by blowing debris and at least one power pole was snapped.
Montebello fire officials said Wednesday that 17 buildings had some type of damage, and 11 of them were red-tagged, or marked unsuitable for occupation.
Cell phone video from the area showed portions of rooftops being ripped away from buildings, and other debris swirling in a circular pattern in the air. Other videos showed a funnel-like cloud forming above the area as rooftops are ripped away.
Additional video from the aftermath showed multiple vehicles in the parking lot of an affected building with heavy damage, including shattered windows and body damage from flying debris. Some vehicles appeared to have rear bumpers ripped away.
According to the NWS, the tornado “developed rapidly” and “lasted for three minutes.”