WATSONVILLE, Calif. - As another storm creeps towards the Central Coast we're learning more about a tornado that impacted a half a dozen greenhouses in Watsonville during the last storm.
Sales Manager Tony Scalisi described the tornado as a loud noise followed by debris circling in the air. The tornado ripped through six greenhouses at the Kitayama Brother's Nursery in Watsonville. "At first we didn't know what it was. I thought it was all a circular wind. I didn't know it was that extensive," said Scalisi.
Just three days before Christmas Scalisi realized it was more than just a little wind. The tornado sent roofs flying, opened the sides of structures and ruined lisiathus flowers. Many of the flowers couldn't be saved because the petals have already started to turn brown. "One of our biggest fears is the sun doesn't come out for the flowers and of course we battle all the elements, but we've never had something like a tornado before," said co-owner Dave Kitayama.
The damage from three greenhouses being completely destroyed and three more being hit by the tornado totals hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. The greenhouse owners were surprised with how much destruction there was after the storm. "When the tornado hit the heat curtains were pulled and you can see how they just shredded. These are really strong curtains," said Dave Kitayama.
The roof for one of the greenhouses was already replaced and covers were put on the walls to keep the heat inside for some of the flowers. "We're growers and like any ag guys in the business this is a small bump in the road," said Scalisi.
Only 6% of the total of 1.2 million square feet of greenhouses were affected by the storm.