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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Community Comment

When a funnel drops from the sky…

Good evening, Netizens...


When was the last time you huddled perhaps in your basement or in an underground storm cellar listening to the sounds as a tornado ripped your house to shreds? How many of you have seen a tornado up close and personal, like across your back fence? Have you ever seen the catastrophic damage an F-5 tornado leaves in its wake, often reducing an entire city into rubble?


I have seen every bit of the scenarios I just described above. I have even chased tornadoes down in the Midwest and Texas hoping to learn something more about how these rambunctious unpredictable storms are formed and why they still defy every bit of science we know today. However, despite a long history of unpredictability, something about predicting these storms just got better in the last week, as the Severe Storm Warning Center in Norman, Oklahoma issued a long-term severe weather warning, encompassing parts of four states. The bad part of it is that the prediction was accurate. The good part is that, despite over 100 tornadoes that hit the ground in over four states, only six people were killed.


I'll concede we do not have that many tornadoes in Eastern Washington, although we do occasionally see funnel clouds aloft, such as yesterday near Genessee, Idaho. However if we adhere to the standard by which we measure tornadoes' strength, called the Fujita Scale, we hardly have anything near the F3 and F4 tornadoes that frequently hit Tornado Alley in the Midwest. In the twenty-some years I have lived in Eastern Washington, I can only recall several F1 tornadoes and a handful of F0 storms that did little damage.


Big or small, nobody can afford to totally ignore funnel clouds. One of my favorite storm stories in Spokane involves an F1 or F2 tornado that came across North Spokane while still aloft, then touched down near Highway 2 just northeast of town. A group of people sitting in what used to be a Denny's Restaurant in North Spokane saw the funnel cloud while it was still aloft and dashed to the restaurant windows the better to see. From what I could determine, most of them had never seen a tornado before.


Who knows? This might be the year a tornado, perhaps an F2 even, drops down on Spokane.



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.