The National Weather Service confirmed today that it was a tornado that touched down near Moses Lake on Wednesday, knocking apart a barn, as an unusually strong May storm blew across Washington.
The Weather Service office in Spokane says a twister about 300 feet wide was on the ground for more than half a mile about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday five miles northeast of Moses Lake. It lifted the horse barn about 20 feet off the ground and dropped it in pieces about 30 feet from its original location. Four horses were outside the barn and no livestock was injured.
Winds of 30 mph to 60 mph were reported across the state.
Cold weather followed the storm. Forecasters are warning of freezing temperatures tonight in Eastern Washington from Omak to Pullman.
In Spokane, sunny skies are expected to cloud up this afternoon, bringing thunder and lightning along with more rain, but less than a tenth of an inch is forecast, according to the National Weather Service. However, winds are only expected to reach up to 20 mph.
Today’s high should be in the mid-50s, officials said. Clouds are expected to clear out tonight and temperatures could drop near freezing.
The record low for tonight is 33, which was set in 1960 and 1973 and could be met tonight, said Colby Neuman, a meteorologist for the Weather Service. Friday’s forecast is expected to be milder with only a chance of showers, but a freeze warning has been issued by the National Weather Service from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m.
Wednesday’s intense storm knocked out electricity to nearly 3,000 residences, officials said.
About 80 Avista customers remained without power in the Pullman area this morning, according to the company’s website. Kootenai Electric Cooperative and Inland Power are reporting no outages.
The peak wind gusts reported in the area were from 45 to 55 mph: 51 mph at the Spokane International Airport, 56 mph in Pullman, and 53 mph in Spokane Valley, weather officials said.
While Spokane only received .14 inches of rain, the Okanogan area reported more than a half-inch over a two-hour period.