47 years later: Vancouver’s deadly F-3 tornado

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Friday marked 47 years since a tornado ripped through Vancouver, killing 6 people and injuring 300 more. 

It remains the deadliest tornado ever recorded west of the Rocky Mountains. 

The storm tracked 9 miles from the Columbia River to near Brush Prarie just after noon on April 5, 1972. 

The tornado was rated an F3 under the original Fujita scale which came online in 1971. Winds on the older Fujita scale were estimated between 158–206 mph if rated as an F3. 

Thanks to the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific Northwest has a relatively mild atmosphere that’s not conducive for the formation of supercell thunderstorms needed to generate the monstrous tornadoes seen in the Midwest. 

What makes the 1972 tornado so rare is the fact that it was able to spin up to F3 status and stay on the ground for nearly 8 miles.

According to the National Weather Service, property damages in Washington alone were estimated at up to $6 million. 

Watch: NWS Portland’s look-back at the 1972 Vancouver tornado

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