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An aerial view of roof damage after a rare confirmed tornado touched down and ripped up building roofs in a Los Angeles suburb on 22 March 2023 in Montebello, California. Another Pacific storm has been pounding California with heavy rain, high winds, and snow in higher elevations. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Late-Season Storm Hits California With Tornado, Leaves Five Dead

A tornado struck close to Los Angeles, California, as part of a greater Pacific storm that left five people dead on Wednesday.

The tornado, with winds of 86 mph to 110 mph, arose during a strong late-season Pacific storm, which also delivered heavy winds and rain, and even snow, to southern California.

In a Los Angeles suburb, the tornado ripped up the roofs of commercial buildings, damaged several cars, and sent debris flying across city blocks. One person was injured from the debris and was taken to a hospital in Montebello, the Associated Press reported.

The city closed several streets in response to the storm and damage.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported the tornado as an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, making it the strongest tornado that the greater Los Angeles area has seen since March 1983.

Inspectors determined that 11 buildings were now uninhabitable due to damage caused by the tornado, according to the fire department.

The NWS said it also investigated another tornado in Carpinteria, a city in Santa Barbara County, California. The tornado, categorized an EF0, struck a mobile home park on Tuesday and damaged roughly 25 residences with wind speeds up to 75 mph.

The late-season storm has been blamed for five deaths throughout the central and southern regions of the state. The deaths occurred in Portola Valley, Rossmoor, and Oakland; two of the people died at a San Francisco hospital while being treated for storm-related injuries.

Other damage from the storm included an Amtrak commuter train that was derailed near Porta Costa when the train was hit by a tree. “More than 126,000 Pacific Gas & Electric customers were without power by early (Tuesday) afternoon, mostly in the region south of San Francisco,” according to The Independent.

Although rare compared to Kansas and other parts of the United States that earn the nickname “Tornado Alley,” California is no stranger to these weather events. “Statewide, about seven tornadoes strike each year,” The Washington Post noted.