The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touched down near Puyallup Monday morning, causing damage to buildings and tipping a train off its tracks.
The tornado was an EF1 - on the ground for five minutes or less. The twister was 75 yards wide and traveled one mile. Maximum winds were 110 mph.
The tornado moved through the industrial area around 7:20 a.m. in the small town of Frederickson, about 45 miles south of Seattle, downing power lines and leaving a path of debris. The rare weather occurrence caught residents by surprise.
"My first instinct, I thought it was an earthquake. Honestly, I never heard of weather like this, at least in Washington state," said Kirk Ransden, who was inside Northwest Door when a tornado ripped across the factory, the length of several football fields.
"We were in the building and it sounded like a vacuum starting. It was really loud, kinda high pitched. A big boom and I saw a ripple through the ceiling and then everything came through, then water starting pouring," he said.
The door making company had to shut its doors to clean up the piles of debris and insulation littered across their parking lot.
Other residents reported hearing loud thunder and seeing lightning.
"I jumped out of bed," said Jennifer Westby, who lives a few blocks from the worst hit area along Canyon Road East. "I was like, oh my gosh, what is going on. It just sounded really crazy. I ran out back and outside and it was just whipping pretty good."
The volatile winds knocked several train cars off the tracks and picked up a car and dropped in onto a wooden wall board. Despite the damage, no injuries were reported.
A Boeing spokesperson said the tornado went between two buildings at their Frederickson 777 and 787 manufacturing plant. Several warehouses and factories near the plant sustained damage, but after surveying the site, Boeing officials said only one building had some damage. Repairs were under way and production was not being impacted. Operations have returned to normal.
KING 5 Meteorologist Rich Marriott said the system appeared to have moved out of the area and was heading east.
"Still a few off-and-on showers behind with a chance of morning thunderstorms, but not quite as organized, so we don't expect to see the showers as strong as they move through the course of the day," said Marriott.
A flood warning remains in effect for the Skokomish River at Potlatch. A flood watch is in effect through Monday evening for Grays Harbor and Thurston counties.
On Monday, one to two feet of snow in the Cascades could make travel treacherous. Predicted snowfall amounts: 21 inches at Paradise on Mount Rainier, 13 inches at Mount Baker and 5 inches at Stevens Pass.
The National Weather Service said the last time Paradise received 10 or more inches of snow in September was in 1972.
A winter storm watch is in effect from Sunday evening through late Monday for the Cascades above 4,000 feet.
Overnight winds knock out power to thousands
Powerful winds brought heavy rain and high winds to Western Washington overnight Sunday into Monday, knocking out power to thousands and closing schools in Orting for the day.
The storm set rainfall records for September in Washington and Oregon.
"We basically had conditions well off shore that were very reminiscent of late fall-early winter," said Dana Felton, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Seattle. "We had real cool air mass out of the Gulf of Alaska and a strong jet."
With Monday's precipitation still to be added, it's been the wettest September on record in Olympia and the second-wettest in Seattle. Nearly 8 inches fell in Olympia, topping a 1978 record and swamping the usual 1.7 inches that fall in that time, the National Weather Service said.
Sea-Tac Airport's September total of 5.6 inches came second to a 1978 record, while downtown Portland saw 6.2 inches -- the most since record-keeping began in 1872. The previous record for Portland was 5.52 inches in September 1927.
Winds on the coast hit 67 mph at Destruction Island, 51 mph at Hoquiam and 43 mph at Friday Harbor. The front moved east before dawn and blustery winds were forecast through the day in Eastern Washington.
The high winds knocked out power for thousands of customers. For detailed information:
Puget Sound Energy - 1-888-225-5773
Snohomish County PUD No. 1 - 425-783-1001
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