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Severe California Storm Whips Up Tornado in Los Angeles

Severe California Storm Whips Up Tornado in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES, CA - A roaring tornado ripped through Los Angeles on Friday morning as the week’s deluge brought flash flood warnings, mudslides, and fierce winds throughout California. The twister spun through a 10-block span, damaging at least five homes and ripping off the roof of a duplex.

“It was crazy. It was crazy,” Jamie Mena, a Los Angeles resident who captured the event on film, told CNN affiliate KABC. “I am shaken up.”

You can see the impact of the tornado in the Mena's video, from CBS news affiliate WIBW, below.

The National Weather Service confirmed that the tornado ranked as an EF0 on the tornado damage scale, with wind gusts ranging between 65 and 85 mph. Tornadoes can get as strong as an EF5, with winds exceeding 200 mph.

“We’re going to call it a small tornado,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt, according to LA Times. “The damage was sporadic. That’s typical of a tornado.”  

While California tornadoes are not as rare as some may think, the amount of tornadoes seen in the Los Angeles basin is “comparable to what they get in the Midwest but it’s much weaker,” said Scott Sukup, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

Last week’s weather system, commonly referred to as a Pineapple Express, dumped an average of 2.5 inches of rain across the state, with approximately 3.46 inches of rain in San Francisco alone. Another 1 or 2 inches of rain is expected to hit the area by Wednesday. Statewide, reservoirs remain only about 58 percent as full as they usually are at this point in the year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Precipitation levels following last week’s storm were estimated at 18.3 inches in the northern Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Credit: Wired

The Los Angeles Department of Public Works noted that it had collected 1 billion gallons of rain on Friday, which officials say is enough to supply more than 30,000 people for a year. However, according to the California Department of Water Resources, the state will need six similar storms to fill its 12 major reservoirs and ultimately end the drought.

Wind speeds in Kern County topped at 89 mph, with 51 mph winds in the Bakersfield area on Thursday night and into Friday morning, resulting in one of the biggest storms to hit the region, according to CBS news affiliate KBAK.

Overall, though the storm elevated the amount of precipitation in the Sierras to about 145% of average for this time of year, snowpack is estimated to be at approximately 40% of average for the date, according to San Francisco Chronicle.

Showers are expected to continue throughout the week with California residents living on the coast anticipating about an inch of rainfall and about half as much on the Salinas Valley, according to Monterey Herald.

Last week’s downpour once again brought up the question as to whether we’ll see El Niño bring further storms to the state. As of December 4, 2014, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says there is an approximately 65% chance that El Niño conditions will be present during the Northern Hemisphere winter and last into the Northern Hemisphere spring 2015.

“We might be going into a weak El Niño this year, but it doesn’t tell us how wet of a year we’re going to have or how many storms we’re going to have,” said Sukup.

With all that said, the greatest of my peril here in Sacramento were a few puddles on the edge of the sidewalk and some scattered showers on my way to work. Still, I, like many other Californians, welcome any and all rain.  

Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we continue to track the California rain showers throughout the week.