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Montebello tornado strongest to impact the LA metro area since 1983

Montebello businesses continue cleanup after tornado
Montebello businesses continue cleanup after tornado 03:14

The National Weather Service confirmed the tornado that "briefly touched down" in Montebello to be the strongest to hit the Los Angeles area since March 1983. 

The "intense microcell" touched down in an industrial park and warehouse district in the city of Montebello around 11:14 a.m. on Wednesday and lasted on the ground for about 3 minutes. The path of the tornado was about 0.42 miles long and 50 yards wide.


The NWS classified the tornado as an EF-1 with estimated peak winds of 110 mph, which is just shy of an EF-2.

EF-0 rated twisters reach gusts of winds between 65 and 85 miles per hour, with the most powerful EF-5 rating eclipsing 200 miles per hour.  


The Montebello twister injured one person and damaged at least 17 buildings, 11 so severely the fire department deemed them too dangerous to use, according to Michael Chee, a city public information officer.

On Thursday, the day after the tornado, damage stretched for blocks. Crews with chainsaws and hammers moved through the zone of destruction. 

Dozens of shattered truck and car windows could be seen in the area. Blues Auto Glass owner Antonio Luquin said after the tornado, he received about 15 to 20 phone calls from customers with broken windows on industrial trucks and personal vehicles.

KCAL News Reporter Michele Gile said that while surveying the damaged area, she saw caved-in ceilings, fallen fences ripped from the ground, skid marks on building walls from roofing material that bounced between the warehouses,  and black roofing material littered everywhere on the ground.

Paul Turner's red-tagged business had his roof blown off, and pouring rain followed, soaking the inside of the warehouse. Turner said he is grateful the few dozen employees that were there at the time of the tornado strike, were all safe.

"The main damage is to the roof, and of course now the water. The main thing is that we are out of business for several, probably three to four months," said Turner.

The last time a F-2 tornado tore through the L.A. area was on March 1, 1983. It started in South Los Angeles with wind speeds in excess of 113 mph, continued along just missing the USC campus, and then dissipated downtown Los Angeles, near the convention center. A F-0 tornado also hit near Pasadena that same day.

On November 9, 1982 Southern California experienced a significant tornado outbreak when 7 tornadoes went through Ventura, LA and Orange Counties during a 6 hour period. 

Over the past 22 years, there have been 46 confirmed tornadoes in LA County and 470 confirmed tornadoes across the entire state of California.

The city of Montebello announced Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Los Angeles County Rapid Deployment Team and the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Mobile Unit would be on site at 1600 Date Street to provide information to any business owner or employee impacted by Wednesday's tornado.

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