Heads Left Spinning as Rare Tornadoes Barrel Through California Communities

After a few weeks of heavy rain, the Golden State’s sky turned grey yet again as twisters touched down and tore through two areas

As if Californians didn’t get their fill of rain and wild winter weather this year, the National Weather Service reports that in the late morning on Wednesday, a tornado touched down in Montebello.

What the NWS defined as a “small tornado” touched the ground in an area industrial park and warehouse district in the city located just east of East Los Angeles. During its nearly half-mile path, the tornado reached peak winds of 110 miles per hour.

The twister left one person injured and 17 buildings with structural damage; 11 of these structures were significantly torn up. In addition to this destruction, a tree was uprooted and winds broke a power pole along with its transformer.

The Enhanced Fujita Scale—the system to rate tornado events based on wind speeds and damage—classifies the Montebello tornado as EF1, which in the context of all tornadoes is considered relatively weak. Still, the event marked the strongest tornado to hit the Los Angeles metropolitan area since March 1983, according to NWS.

“When I turned around, there was just debris, pretty much as high as a helicopter would be, super, super high,” local gas station staffer Rudy Garcia told KTLA. “That’s when I went inside, to cover up. I was trying to hold the door, but I couldn’t hold it.”

However, the Montebello tornado was not the only wild windy weather to whirl through a part of California this week. Just one day prior, another strong whirlwind barreled through Carpinteria, leaving residents to wonder what the hell they just saw.

The weather event ripped through the Sandpiper Village mobile home park in the coastal town, bringing peak winds of 75 miles per hour during a .47-mile path and damaging 25 mobile home units. According to KEYT reporter Tracy Lehr, NWS later determined that the whiplash-inducing weather event was, in fact, a tornado.

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