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Sep-18-2006 13:43printcomments

Controllers at Salem’s McNary Field Spot Possible Funnel Cloud

While funnel clouds are rare in Oregon, the National Weather Service says this is the time of year for funnel clouds.

Salem Airport tower
The Air Traffic Controllers are based at the Salem Airport

(SALEM) - Air Traffic Controllers at Salem’s McNary Field spotted what they thought was a funnel cloud Monday.

According to the National Weather Service office in Portland, the funnel cloud was reported just after noon, six miles west of McNary Field.

No damage or injuries were reported.

The NWS said that their radar showed a weak disturbance moving through the area at the time of the report, but could not confirm if a funnel cloud had actually formed. The said that while these types of events in Oregon are not common, this is the time of year when one would be spotted.

According to the American Meteorological Society a funnel cloud is a condensation cloud, typically funnel-shaped and extending outward from a cumuliform cloud, associated with a rotating column of air (a vortex) that may or may not be in contact with the ground.

If the rotation is violent and in contact with the ground, the vortex is a tornado.

1997 Tornado in Oregon

Funnel clouds can occur through a variety of processes in association with convection. For example, small funnel clouds are infrequently seen extending from small, dissipating cumulus clouds in environments with significant vertical wind shear in the cloud-bearing layer.

Some Historical Oregon Tornadoes From The National Weather Service:

November 12th, 1997 near Silverton in Marion County The third tornado of the day in northwest Oregon. It was smaller then the other two but it ripped through a 700 square foot barn causing significant damage.

January 1996, near Lincoln City in Lincoln County

An apparent tornado struck the coast near Lincoln City. There were no eyewitnesses, since this occurred at night, but the damage which resulted makes it evident that a tornado did occur. An intense electrical storm, one of the strongest in recent years, occurred late one January night. Thunder, lightning, and high winds lasted for several hours. The next day, several damage reports were received by the Lincoln City police.

In the parking lot of a manufactured home facility, a trailer was lifted completely off the ground and dropped on the trailer adjacent to it. Several windows were shattered, with glass exploding outward as if the result of extremely low outside pressure. Near the ocean, a number of fish were apparently pulled from the ocean and dropped onto a parking lot. Based on the nature of the reports, it appears that a tornado passed through Lincoln City that night.

July 9th, 1995, near Hermiston in Umatilla County

Workers at the Simplot Plant southeast of Hermiston spotted a tornado that touched down for about two minutes in a nearby wheat field causing no damage. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

May 11th, 1995, near Baker City in Baker County

A very small tornado touched down briefly near the Sheriff's office in downtown Baker City. was no damage or injuries reported. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

March 11th, 1995, near Happy Valley in Harney County

A small tornado was sighted in east-central Harney County. The area is very sparsely populated and no other information was available. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

March 22nd, 1994, near Albany in Linn County

A small tornado touched down near a shopping area in Albany. It blew out a stor window and damaged some merchandise inside but overall damage was very limited. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

February 13th, 1994, near Warrenton in Clatsop County

A weak tornado touched down briefly at Kamper's West Park near Warrenton. It lifted 20 wooden picnic tables 40 feet into the air and deposited them 200 yards away. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

December 8th, 1993, near Newberg in Washington County

This F2 tornado was the most powerful tornado in Oregon in many years. It started as a cold front that came with a deep surface low along the coast that moved across the Willamette Valley. Six veal calves were killed, a dairy farm was damaged roofs were blown off some small buildings, and many trees were broken. People reported that the funnel was sucking water from the Willamette River as it moved northeast.

There, it greatly damaged a mobile home park. A tree at least 2 feet in diameter was snapped off six feet above the ground and hit a two story house. Remarkably, no one was injured. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

July 16th, 1993 near Madras in Jefferson County

A weak tornado touched down north of Madras. It traveled about a half mile, knocking over several trees before retreating back into the cloud. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

July 22nd, 1992 near Hells Canyon Dam

This tornado touched down near Hells Canyon Dam. A family trying to escape the storm got into their car. The twister apparently went right over their car, blowing out the passenger windows, lifting it 2 or 3 feet and pummeling it with debris. The car was totaled but there were no injuries. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

November 12th, 1991 near Tualatin in Washington County

The second tornado of the day in Oregon touched down near an office district in Tualatin. It lifted two dumpsters and threw them into a parked van and sucked open an office door, ripping out the ceiling tiles. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

November 12th, 1991 near Troutdale in Multnomah County

This tornado caused significant damage to eighty feet of fencing as it touched down near Troutdale. It also tore off part of a roof and ripped out the wall of a steel building. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

May 1st, 1991 near Pendleton in Umatilla County

This small tornado touched down in wheat fields near Pendleton causing little if any damage. It was visible from the National Weather Service forecast office in Pendleton. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

April 9th, 1991, near Gresham in Multnomah County

Very small, weak tornado touched down near Gresham. Very slight damage. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

May 23rd, 1990, near Albany in Linn County

A cold spring low pressure center moved east through Oregon during the day producing unstable weather over a large area. Between 1230 and 1400 PDT at least three funnel clouds were sited in Linn County near Albany.

No one could confirm that any touched the ground. An eyewitness video-taped one particular funnel cloud that remained just below the cloud base for nearly five minutes.

November 24th, 1989, near Eugene in Lane County

The tornado touched down in the south hills of Eugene. It caused telephone pulls to break in half. It also uprooted several tall fir trees which fell on two houses and a camper causing significant damage but no injuries. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

August 22nd, 1989, near Bend in Deschutes County

This tornado touched down about 5 miles east of Bend. Two shed roofs were blown off parts off which were never found. The tornado also uprooted juniper trees and embedded broken window glass into a chest of draws in a house. Witnesses saw large metal roof pieces being rotated up into the sky. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

June 29th, 1989, near La Center in Clark County, Washington

A tornado touched down during the afternoon of the 29th of June, moving through northern Clark County. Following is a damage survey report.

3300 NW 289th St: Part of a maple tree was blown down. Wind direction was estimated at 200 degrees, or South, based on how the tree was lying on the ground. To the south-southwest of the tree is an open field. On the far side of the field there was no visible damage. Just across the street to the north of the damaged tree a 10 feet square section of a barn roof had all cedar shakes blown off.

A resident in a nearby home recalled that it rained quite hard before the wind hit. She went outside right after the hardest wind hit to retrieve a patio table and umbrella. While outside, she noticed the sky was dark, reminding her of tornado weather (she grew up in Oklahoma), but saw no rotating clouds. All damage appears to be straight line winds.

29502 NW 31st Ave: A wagon was blown on its side by a strong west wind. Three small fir trees, about 20 feet tall, were blown over with roots exposed. Fiberglass panels, each about 26 inches by 10 feet, were blown from near the fir trees to an orchard about 100 feet away, with some panels bent around trees. One panel was carried about 3/8ths mile down the road. Several large pear trees were heavily damaged with many large limbs broken. Heavy rain came just prior to the strong winds, then tapered off once the wind abated.

29711 NW 31st St: A person saw clouds at a low level heading to the northeast. One foot square foam panels were blown due west while the wind across the street appeared to be blowing due north. He watched the clouds come together and begin rotating above 29502 NW 31st Ave.

November 2nd, 1984, near Waldport in Lincoln County

Tornado-like winds tore the roof off the Bayshore Inn Motel in Waldport around 4:45 pm. There were no injuries, but the hotel suffered $250,000 in damage. Wind apparently moved automobiles and campers in the parking lot. Several witnesses reported a funnel as well as swirling debris. The storm was accompanied by "finger-sized" hail. The hotel is on the north side of Alsea Bay on a sand spit and is well exposed.

October 26th, 1984, near Champoeg Park in Marion County

A small tornado touched down 1.5 miles southeast of Champoeg Park, or two miles northwest of Donald. A workshop/garage that faced wwest was totally destroyed. Two large cement foundations approximately two square feet in area were torn from the ground. An entire roof and sides of a structure were deposited in a field just to the east. Large trees were sheared off near the structure and three large fir trees were uprooted 0.75 mile east of where the tornado touched down.

The tornado was accompanied by pea-sized hail and frequent lightning. Apparently lightning struck and killed a field worker south of Canby.

May 14th, 1984, near Junction City in Lane County

This small tornado touched down at the location of the Eugene Livestock Auction, damaging a barn and shelter. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

April 18th, 1984, near Woodland Heights in Yamhill County

This small tornado touched down about 8.5 miles south of McMinnville. It lasted only briefly but tore the roof off a large barn. Witnesses saw debris being drawn up into the cloud in a circular pattern. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

June 22nd, 1983, near Bend in Deschutes County

A small tornado touched down a few miles southeast of Bend for a brief time. It crossed open range country causing only slight damage. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

June 21st, 1983, near La Grande in Baker County

A short lived tornado touched down near the LaGrande area. It caused only slight damage most likely to fields and timber. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

March 22nd, 1983, near Brookings in Curry County

A small tornado touched down southeast of Brookings near the California-Oregon border causing some minor damage. The twister was only on the ground for a few yards but was up to 15 yards wide. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

August 20th, 1979, near Sandy in Clackamas County

The tornado's path was over two miles long. An observer to the storm, Robert Lee, (Oregonian, August 22, 1979) described it as "a black roll cloud like a vertical cliff approaching, spitting lightning in a brilliant barrage...." It rained so hard that he could not see "four feet in front." Harold Butler, Sandy, stated that he saw a funnel snake down out of the cloud touching the ground here and there.

Damage included that to a house under construction, which was flattened, and to others that were hit by falling trees. A storage building full of machinery was blown apart. Power service through the Sandy area was temporarily knocked out. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

May 23rd, 1979, near Klamath Falls in Klamath County

Several funnel clouds were observed in the area. Some of them touched down as tornadoes briefly. No damage or injuries were reported. From Oregon Climate Service Report. August 20th, 1978, near Amity in Yamhill County

Another apparent tornado struck the Amity area only a couple of hours after the Scappose tornado. It caused small amounts of damage and was determined to be a tornado only after later visits and inspection of the area. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

August 20th, 1978, near Scappoose in Columbia County

This apparent tornado caused moderate damage when it struck a mobile home, and scattered pieces for 0.25 mile. However, no injuries or deaths occurred in the area. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

August 16th, 1978, near Gresham in Multnomah County

A small tornado touched down near Gresham causing some damage to buildings and crops. It was on the ground only briefly. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

December 12, 1975, near Tillamook in Tillamook County

This was a moderate tornado which caused considerable damage to the Tillamook area. The twister touched down near Tillamook and traveled along the ground for up to 2 miles. It passed very near KTIL radio station which recorded 90 mph winds as it passed. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

September 16th, 1975, near Baker City in Baker County

This very small tornado only briefly touched down in an open field near Baker causing no damage. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

August 18th, 1975, near Eugene in Lane County

This tornado occurred near Eugene but was not well documented. It apparently destroyed a metal building but caused no injuries. The amount of damage caused is unknown. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

April 23rd, 1974, near Nyssa in Malheur County

The tornado traveled along the Oregon-Idaho border, demolishing a large farm building and the machinery in it. It also lifted another small building completely off the ground. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

September 21st, 1973, 50 miles northeast of Lakeview in Lake County

This small tornado was observed from about 10 miles away as it crossed open, uninhabited country. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

December 13th, 1973, near Newport in Lincoln County

This apparent tornado ripped through Newport in the evening with the passage of a squall line. It tore off the roof of a real estate building, several windows blown out, two other roofs damaged and a garage moved off its foundation. From Oregon Climate Service Report.

April 5th, 1972, (F3 tornado) Portland Oregon and Vancouver Washington

A very turbulent squall line moved northeast across Portland, causing scattered wind damage, broken tree limbs, and even uprooting some trees. Track of the strongest storm cell in the squall line was first indicated at Tigard where straight line winds unroofed a lumber warehouse at 12965 SW Pacific Highway, and its debris damaged five vehicles parked in a neighboring service station.

High winds were experienced across the West Hills of Portland and tree limbs littered Hamilton Park. Passage of the storm cells across Portland caused a 0.12 inch pressure jump as recorded by the NWS Climatology Office in the Multnomah Building in downtown Portland. Straight line winds toppled several trees at the south edge of the Riverside Country Club just 1.4 miles southwest of the Columbia River's south bank.

The Portland/Vancouver tornado that developed from this storm fist touched down at the south edge of the Columbia River damaging four pleasure boat moorages in the 3300 to 3400 blocks of NE Marine Drive. About 50 cabin cruisers were either damaged or blown about by the wind as it damaged a dry dock, boat houses and dock shelters. The funnel was not observed locally because it was obscured by mud and flying debris.

It was described as a clack mass, and several persons reported seeing water being drawn up into the cloud as the tornado moved one-half mile before crossing the Oregon-Washington state line in the middle of the Columbia River and continuing on to the Washington shore. Observers were unable to see across the Columbia River because of the water vapor.

The tornado continued its nine-mile total damage path across the east side of Vancouver to the Brush Prairie area. Six persons lost their lives while 300 persons were injured. The tornado caused five to six million dollars in property damage in Washington alone. The tornado was the most devastating tornado in Oregon's recorded weather history, dating back to 1871.

Additional wind damage in the Portland area included fallen trees on two homes in Lake Oswego, trees blocking sections of NE Glisan and Flanders and smashing two automobiles, and damaged telephone and power lines. Portland National Weather Service Office on 5421 NE Marine Drive (about 1 mile east of the tornado touchdown) recorded a sustained wind of 48 miles per hour from the south at 12:53 PM and gusts of 63 mph from the south at 12:52 PM.

Salem area weather forecast

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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robert October 1, 2006 12:44 pm (Pacific time)

if there are any photographs of the 1972 f-3, tornado that hit the portland vancouver area i would like to obtain some of them. Thanks Robert

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