2 Rare Tornadoes Touch Down, Major Road Closures

2024-03-03 20:14:16

A record storm in Northern California brought with it historic snowfall and two exceptionally rare tornadoes that touched down.

Between Friday and Saturday in Central California, two tornadoes touched down in Madera and Kings County, respectively, the first of which forced children to shelter in a cafeteria. No serious damages or injuries were reported with either occurrence. Per the Los Angeles Times:

A tornado touched down in Kings County on Saturday afternoon — the second tornado in two days to hit Central California. The tornado touched down in the south end of Corcoran around 4:37 p.m., said meteorologist Carlos Molina with the National Weather Service’s Hanford office. The tornado moved eastward and than dissipated by the time it reached U.S. Route 99, he said.

The tornado comes less than a day after a funnel cloud briefly touched down in the county of Madera, about 30 minutes north of Fresno. ABC7 reported the tornado touched down near an elementary school, forcing students to shelter in the cafeteria.

Carlos Molina of the National Weather Service said in response, “This is the first time I’ve ever actually observed two tornadoes back to back.”

“Usually for Central California, we normally would get one, possibly two, tornadoes across our area between March and April,” he said.

Two tornadoes touched down in one minute of the other in San Luis Obispo County last month — the first to hit the county since 2004 and the strongest since 1950.

Beyond the tornadoes, the record storm also brought with it heavy snowfall that shut down several roads in the Sierra Nevadas along with several ski resorts.

“Extremely heavy snowfall rates of 2-6 inches an hour combined with very strong winds exceeding 100 mph at times will maintain impossible travel conditions in the Sierra Nevada,” the Weather Prediction Center said.

Officials gave no time window as to when the roads could reopen. Per CNN:

The snow has closed a 70-mile stretch of Interstate 80 near the Nevada state line for more than a day after highway officials reported stranded drivers Friday night.

More than 15,000 homes and businesses were without power in California Sunday afternoon, down from nearly 40,000, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.us.

Numerous ski fields and chairlifts remained closed Sunday, including at Palisades Tahoe, Sierra at Tahoe and Mammoth, with some resorts warning of delayed starts. The ski resort Sierra-at-Tahoe in Twin Bridges shared images with CNN of snow piling up against the door of the resort’s maintenance shop and a car in the resort’s guest parking buried in snow that fell overnight.

The Weather Prediction Center also warned of “high to extreme” avalanche danger through Sunday in the Greater Lake Tahoe area and Central Sierra, with a forecast of about 12 feet of snow along the crest of the Sierra later in the day. The service also predicted powerful winds “in excess of 75 mph.”

“These winds will likely down trees and power lines, resulting in widespread power outages,” it said. “Moreover, cooler temperatures will usher into the West behind the initial front, lowering the snow levels down into many valleys.”

“The intensity of the snow and high winds along the Sierra Nevada as well as across the Intermountain West will gradually wane through Monday. However, reinforcing upper-level energies arriving from the Pacific (will) keep the unstable cold air mass in place across a large section of the western US,” the National Weather Service said.

Paul Roland Bois directed the award-winning feature filmEXEMPLUM, which can be viewed for FREE on YouTube or Tubi. “Better than Killers of the Flower Moon,” wrote Mark Judge. “You haven’t seen a story like this before,” wrote Christian Toto. A high-quality, ad-free stream can also be purchased on Google Play or Vimeo on Demand. Follow him on Twitter @prolandfilms or Instagram @prolandfilms.

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