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L.A. area hit with its strongest tornado in 4 decades

A tornado touched down just east of downtown Los Angeles, significantly damaging nearly a dozen buildings.
L.A. area hit with its strongest tornado in 4 decades
Posted at 6:04 AM, Mar 23, 2023

As floods have washed away California’s severe drought, the Los Angeles area had several tornadoes hit the region this week. 

One such tornado, which hit Montebello around lunchtime Wednesday, was the strongest to strike the region since 1983, the National Weather Service said. Montebello is located east of downtown Los Angeles. 

The Nationwide Weather Service said the tornado reached EF1 strength, with top winds at 110 mph. It was on the ground for .42 of a mile for 2-3 minutes. One injury was reported from the tornado. 

The tornado struck a warehouse district, causing roofing material to collapse. The tornado also snapped a power pole, blew out windows and uprooted trees. 

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The National Weather Service said 17 buildings were damaged, with 11 having significant damage. 

On Tuesday, a weaker tornado was confirmed in Sandpiper Village, California, about 100 miles west of Los Angeles. The EF0 tornado was on the ground for .47 of a mile and injured one person. 

Although tornadoes don’t happen as frequently in southern California as compared to areas east of the Rockies, they can still pose a challenge for forecasters. 

“So, typically, with the tornados that affect this area, they spin up very rapidly, unfortunately, sometimes too rapidly to detect or warn for,” Ariel Cohen, National Weather Service meteorologist, said. “It's a very different character from the tornadoes that are occurring over the Central, Eastern United States, where there's a much stronger signal and slower duration in terms of how they come about to form."

California typically averages about half a dozen tornadoes per year despite being geographically large, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

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