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Tuesday's tornado hits almond ranch
H.D. Coelho and Brian Elliott noticed the clouds looked rather odd as they drove into Gerber on Tuesday afternoon. As they came across Elder Creek bordering their property on the north, they viewed what they thought was a dust devil.
Drawing closer, the two men realized what they were seeing wasn't just a measley dust devil, but a real tornado.
Elliott said they parked and watched helplessly as the twister ripped the roof off of their barn, and threw pieces through the air 200 feet away.
The two men reside on an almond ranch just east of San Benito Avenue in Gerber. It is a family owned ranch and has been in the family for about 60 years.
Elliott said luckily the tornado touched down in a field where trees were recently removed, so no trees were damaged.
"However, we were not so lucky with our barn," he said.
There was also no damage to the pieces of equipment in the barn.
"However, the equipment did get tossed around," Elliott said.
Coelho and Elliott watched the tornado move west toward San Benito Avenue.
"Once it reached the road it continued to rotate debris with it. The row of trees along the west side of the road seemed to part and the tornado continued westward and weakened," said Elliot.
Stephanie Henry, meteorologist at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration in Sacramento, reported the land spout tornado, categorized as an EF-O, touched down at 1:30 p.m. east of San Benito Avenue.
She said It traveled .4 miles on the ground in a southwesterly direction.
"We estimate at the tornado's peak, the wind speed was 74 mph," she said. "A category EF-0 can contain wind speed from 61 to 91 mph."
A land spout tornado is formed when unstable air at the ground level mixes with vertical windsheer, the air comes from the ground and spins up toward the clouds.
Henry said the most recent tornadoes to touch down in Tehama County were in May 2011, and March and October of 2012.
Tammi Reynolds was working in her office at Dudley's Excavating Inc. on San Benito Avenue near Elder Creek when she received a call from her boss who was at the Walmart Distribution Center on Highway 99.
He told her there was a tornado near them.
Reynolds said she walked out behind the building and saw the tornado.
"It was brown in color at the bottom. It was spinning and picking up papers. It was huge at first. Then there was no wind, but the papers were still spinning in the air," she said.
Reynolds said the twister lasted approximately three to four minutes.
The weather service said the only damage reported was to the barn.