WATSONVILLE, Calif.- A rare tornado rips through Watsonville on Saturday, after winter weather wreaked havoc all over the country this past weekend. The question many of you posted on our Facebook page: why are we just now hearing about this tornado? So we went to see the damage first hand and spoke with experts about why this is so uncommon.
Meteorologists said it started as a waterspout over the Monterey Bay, then turned into a tornado when it moved onshore it lasted for about three minutes, leaving about a mile's worth of destruction in its path.
One neighbor who was home at the time but wouldn't talk on camera said it sounded like a freight train. The top covering of this greenhouse at Kitayama Brother's, a flower growing business in Watsonville, is completely damaged. That neighbor also said several others were also hit but have since been fixed. Meteorologists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA in Monterey said they did see some rotation in the sky over the Monterey Bay during Saturday morning's storm.
"You could even have a case where winds are relatively calm. But a tornado still forms and within that tornado itself which might be only 20 to 30 feet across, within that very small area, winds can be quite strong," said Warren Blier, Science and Operations Officer for NOAA.
But it's so rare to have them in our area, they don't put out a warning until a rotation becomes much stronger. And on a scale from zero to five, they said this one qualifies as an EF zero.
"The tornadoes that we have here in our area are generally on the weak end of the scale," Blier said.
And if there's no eyewitness to the twister, NOAA said it's not until damage is reported, that an expert is able to physically go out and determine whether a tornado actually hit.
"Weather features associated with them, looking at satellite imagery and what we have from the dopplar radar up in the Santa Cruz Mountains," Blier said.
The last time the Central Coast saw a tornado was in Gilroy in 2007 and another one in Watsonville in 2001, that Meteorolgists saw was stronger. We tried to reach the grower to find how out much the damage will cost, but haven't heard back yet.