NE Portland tornado: ‘This never happens’

Multnomah County

Confirmed EF-0 tornado had top winds of 80 mph

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Power was restored to thousands of people in Northeast Portland after an EF-0 tornado knocked down trees and power poles Monday night.

The tornado, which touched down near NE 10th and Wygant, was about 40 yards wide, traveled about a mile and lasted 6 minutes. Power crews responded quickly to the thousands of people affected.

Among the damage were trees uprooted by the 80 mph winds. The toppled trees damaged cars and homes in the area to NE 29th and Skidmore.

Scott Johnson was bicycling through the area when the tornado hit.

“When I passed this tree, one of the branches hit me in the face,” Johnson told KOIN 6 News. “It’s just windy and crazy. I heard this big crack and the tree is down — and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, I barely missed that tree right??”

Power crews in the area of NE Going and 18th in Portland after a tornado hit the area, July 2, 2019 (KOIN)

The felled trees spewed branches everywhere. He said he felt lucky the tree didn’t take him down.

“I posted it on Facebook and a number of people said ‘Somebody’s watching out for you!'”

Greg McAllister, who lives at NE 19th and Going, said he witnessed all the action. First the rain, then the hail and then the twister.

“You just see stuff flying through the air. It had a little bit of the Wizard of Oz about it,” McAllister said. “It’s amazing to me the whims of fate hits one place and misses another.”

Like 2600 other people in the area, his power was out for hours. Pacific Power crews restored the power to everyone by 8 a.m.

Neighbors came out to check the damage and shocked a tornado hit their street.

“People were saying, ‘This never happens,'” McAllister said. “Never say never these days.”

Tornadoes in July are rare

Well, it’s almost true tornadoes never happen in July in Portland. The last one was 82 years ago.

Including Monday, there have only been 5 recorded tornadoes in July in the NW Oregon/SW Washington region. The others are:
> July 25, 1937 (actually two tornadoes that day) – Lane County
> July 13, 1907 – Multnomah County
> July 14, 1894 – Clackamas County

There have only been 5 recorded tornadoes in Portland proper, and 2 of them happened on July 1 (just 112 years apart):
> July 1, 2019
> October 28, 2018
> April 5, 1972
> July 1, 1907
> February 1904

Tornadoes are typically weaker in the EF-0 to 1 range and in the fall/spring months.

Portland tornado, July 1, 2019 — Video by Laurie Nelesen

Record rainfall

PDX set a new rainfall record Monday with 0.54 inches fallen just from the heavy downpours within the thunderstorms. This beat the old rainfall record of 0.28 inches set back in 1983.

Portland General Electric — Power Outages
Pacific Power — Power Outages
Clark County PUD — Power Outages

KOIN 6 News — Weather Alerts

A much calmer day is expected Tuesday, with mostly cloudy skies and much cooler day time highs in the low 70s. The cloudy and cooler afternoon will help to inhibit thunderstorm development, so expect a much less active day. However, showers may develop this afternoon with scattered heavy showers through the evening.

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