MOSES LAKE, Wash. - The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday that it was a tornado that touched down near Moses Lake, knocking apart a barn, as an unusually strong May storm blew across Washington.
The Weather Service office in Spokane says a twister about 300 feet wide was on the ground for more than half a mile about 6:15 p.m.
The Multi Agency Communications (911) Center received a report at 6:30 p.m. of a tornado on Road P NE, about 7 miles northeast of Moses Lake.
The property owner, Rick Call, said a dark, turbulent cloud hit at 6:30 p.m. just as he was going to feed his horses. He said the tornado moved quickly, lifting and moving several heavy objects, such as his riding lawn mower, until it struck his barn, picked it up off its foundation, rotated it and dropped it back on the ground about 30 feet away from its original location.
"I headed out to feed, and wind really started blowing, tumble weeds going up in the air 40, 50 feet in the air. So I fed the horses real quick. When turned back around, started running because it was blowing real hard... and the hay was all up in the air, the wind was blowing so hard, it picked that barn up about 10, 15 feet and laid it on over the ground," he said.
Right after the event, weather experts cautioned they still needed more data to pinpoint what happened.
"There certainly was a strong convective line that went through. We saw that on the radar, saw that in the satellite pictures, so there's no doubt about that," said Cliff Mass. "Heavy rain, strong winds, maybe some hail and lightning... Well, whether there's a tornado, that's unconfirmed right now. It's possible we could have had a very weak one."
The wind destroyed the 65' x 85' wood barn. No people or livestock were hurt in the incident.
The tornado is part of a cluster of storms moving through the Moses Lake area. Wind gusts can get up to 50 m.p.h.
Businesses in the area reported strong winds, heavy rain with lightning and thunder.
Areas affected include Ritzville, Hartline, Harrington, Sprague, and Davenport. The wind advisory for those cities is in effect until 7:45 p.m.
The wind advisory continues for areas east of Moses Lake until 10 p.m. for the Idaho Palouse, Lower Garfield and Asotin Counties, the Washington Palouse, and the Upper Columbia Basin.
A wind advisory is also in effect until midnight for the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area. Expect winds of 25 to 35 m.p.h.