EF2 tornado damages 128 buildings in Manzanita


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The National Weather Service confirmed 2 tornadoes hit the Oregon coast Friday morning, one in Oceanside, the other in Manzanita.

The coastal town of Manzanita suffered heavy damage to buildings, homes and trees, but no one was injured. The National Weather Service said the Manzanita tornado was an EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

Late Friday afternoon, the National Weather Service and the Tillamook County Sheriff said 128 structures were damaged in a half-mile stretch from Ocean Beach to Highway 101.

The tornado began as a water spout in the ocean and made landfall as a tornado. It traveled about .7 miles.

The damage is about 2 to 3 blocks or 225 yards wide and caused “minor to major” structural damage. The city manager said at least 28 homes were damaged and the town lost a third of its trees.

The American Red Cross responded to Manzanita to give aid to people whose homes were damaged. The temporary shelter that was set up has been closed because everyone was able to find a safe place to stay.

A series of tornado warnings were sent by the National Weather Service before they expired at 10:30 a.m.

Manzanita declared a state of emergency in order to deal with the cleanup and aftermath.

The declaration by Mayor Garry Bullard is necessary for the beach town to be eligible for federal disaster money. The inventory of damage from Friday’s tornado is incomplete, but photos and videos show toppled trees, downed power poles, a mangled deck and some wrecked downtown businesses.

Doug Dick, the Chief Building Inspector for Manzanita told KOIN 6 News some buildings have been deemed unsafe. They were continuing inspections throughout the day.

Tillamook County Sheriff Andy Long says two businesses are confirmed destroyed and one home is uninhabitable. He says other homes have roof damage.

There are unconfirmed reports that at least 80 trees were knocked down.

WARNING: Graphic language in video

Debbie Harmon of the Amanita Gallery says out of nowhere the wind suddenly made a “whoooo” sound.

The whole sky filled with debris as a tornado touched down in the small coastal city. Harmon says “it was just crazy and then it just stopped.”

Next thing, she saw trees scattered in the road and emergency vehicles headed toward the beach area.

Others said it looked like “The Wizard of Oz” as the tornado tore through town, splintering the roof of neighboring business Cones, Coffee and Moxie, bringing town power lines and ripping up 1/8 of the Manzanita’s trees.

“After that kind of passed, you could see the trees just snapping like twigs,” said Fresh Foods and Produce manager Phil Panos, who watched the tornado graze the tops of a home and storage building on its way to Hwy 101.

Panos feels fortunate that it didn’t hit his store.

“[It was] a football field away,” Panos said. “We were lucky. It would have peeled the roof right off that thing.”

Residents and city leaders were left trying to clean up the town Friday night before yet another storm hits Saturday.

“We are waiting for the other shoe to drop,” city manager Jerry Taylor said.

KOIN 6 News is in Manzanita and will update this story with the latest information and pictures.The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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