MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (KOIN) -- A confirmed tornado touched down in McMinnville around 4:25 p.m. Thursday afternoon, damaging buildings and causing power outages.
KOIN Chief Meteorologist Bruce Sussman identified a "strong cell" that moved through the area at 4:25 p.m. The cell was identified by the National Weather Service as an EF-1 tornado later Thursday. EF-1 designates tornadoes with wind speeds between 86 mph and 110 mph.
"I heard a heck of a noise, and I thought it was hail," said Spencer Wrigglesworth, an 86-year-old mechanic in McMinnville whose metal-clad shop disintegrated around him. "So I got up to see -- and when I opened the door there were big rain drops, coming down at 90 miles an hour. And then the big wind started."
So far there have been no reports of injuries.
Michael Morris called 911 to report the "small tornado" Thursday.
"I was sitting in my office and heard an unusual noise. I looked outside and saw some debris in the air," he told KOIN 6 News by phone. "It progressed to the east for about three blocks and was on the ground for about 15 seconds. I saw miscellaneous debris, personal items, tossed, oh, I don't know, 200 or 300 feet int the air. I watched it cross Lafayette Avenue."
He said that is the second busiest street in McMinnville. But again, no one appears to have been hurt.
"I saw significant damage," Morris said. "Fairly large storage units, about six to 12 of them, damaged. There was roofing material draped over power lines and I could see transformers explode."
Miguel Santoyo said he even saw metal pieces flying through the air.
"I smelled smoke in the air," he said. The damage was about "five or six blocks" away from his house.
KOIN 6 Viewer Beth Uhrinak caught what appeared to be a funnel cloud forming over her neighborhood. Sussman said it's hard to say "if it's the same one that became our tornado -- but it might have been."
If anything, Sussman said, "It is also another sign of the unstable weather we've had around here lately."
A National Weather Service storm survey team headed to McMinnville Thursday evening. Team members looked at debris patterns to determine whether the damage was indeed caused by a tornado.
A funnel cloud also was reported in Hillsboro, Ore., Thursday, according to the weather service. The weather service also posted images of a funnel cloud at Finley National Wildlife Refuge, about 10 miles south of Corvallis, Ore.
Snow snarled much of Oregon Friday and motorists unfamiliar with how to drive in the snow were involved in a number of accidents.
The season's first big snow storm hit the region Friday, closing schools and shutting down roads.
Flurries snarled the morning commute in the Portland metro area. A wind chill of minus-5 to minus-15 degrees is possible into Saturday.
The latest road closures and conditions from across Oregon.