Friday, October 13, 2017

Tornado at Aurora State Airport (KUAO) damages planes

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Two airplanes were flipped over at the Aurora State Airport when a tornado touched down there around 3:40 p.m. on Thursday. On Friday, the National Weather Service confirmed a second tornado northeast of Salmon Creek near Mount Vista happened about 35 minutes earlier.

The National Weather Service issued the tornado warning for Clackamas County and surrounding areas and it expired at 4:15 p.m. Officials said the tornado was an EF-0 with estimated peak winds of 65-70 miles per hour.

The Aurora Fire Department said the 2 planes flipped after the storm broke their tie downs. Other planes appeared to have moved from their original spots, but were not damaged.

Tish Ness was in an office near the hangars at the time and said rain was coming down sideways in sheets amid intense thunder and lightning. She could hear the sign on top of the building shaking.

Bruce Bennett, the president of Aurora Aviation, was flying from California when the storm hit.

“it had to be really, really intense. Really focused,” Bennett said. “It flipped 2 aircraft on their back and actually, those airplanes were chained down, it broke the chains, bent the wings… So, immensely destructive.”

Thankfully Bennett had enough fuel and time to circle a safe distance around until it passed.

A large tree broke in half on Boones Ferry Road near the airport, taking down several power lines with it. The road is currently blocked from Cessna Street to Arndt Road while PGE crews work on the power lines.

Smith Gardens, which is northeast of the airport, also took a hit. Greenhouses and the main office were damaged. Many trees and other debris were blown around the greenhouse area.

An employee from LifeFlight, which is located near the Aurora airport, told KOIN 6 News she did not see the tornado but there were fast-moving clouds and about 2 minutes of marble-sized hail.

Todd Gary with the Canby Fire District told KOIN 6 News at 4:20 p.m. that as he spoke it was clear and calm, but at 4 p.m. there was strong rain, wind and it was very dark.

“We could see the clouds definitely making a huge turn,” Gary said.

He said there were no 911 calls for help so far.

Students at Molalla High School were asked to shelter in place when the tornado warning was issued. The noticed was lifted but their homecoming parade was delayed to 4:30 p.m.

The National Weather Service said there was also some storm damage in Salmon Creek, Washington around 3 p.m. They could not confirm whether a funnel cloud or tornado was to blame and the damage was minor.

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CANBY, Ore. (KOMO) -- A tornado touched down in Clackamas County Thursday afternoon, damaging two small aircraft and a nearby nursery but no one was hurt.

Reports firsts came in from the town of Aurora -- including spotters at the Aurora Airport, at 3:39 p.m., the National Weather Service reports. A rare Tornado Warning was issued for the area, which has since expired.

The tornado was rated an EF-0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale -- the lowest rung on the scale -- with estimated winds of 65-70 mph, the National Weather Service said.

Video from the airport in Aurora showed at least two planes flipped over in the strong winds. An airport employee told KATU-TV there was a heavy rain squall that came through and wind so strong it was shaking their building. No one was hurt there.

There have also been reports of wires and some trees down, but no homes were damaged. More damage was reported at Smith Gardens, where multiple glass greenhouses and their main office were damaged.

A team with the National Weather Service is on its way to the area to survey the damage and will have more details on the tornado this evening.

The storm comes on the 55th anniversary of the great Columbus Day Storm that brought triple-digit wind gusts to Northern Oregon. 

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