Eleven businesses deemed unsafe to enter after Montebello tornado

Eleven businesses deemed unsafe to enter after Montebello tornado

Eleven Montebello businesses remained red-tagged Thursday after a rare tornado in southern california which ripped the roof off a building, smashed windows and scattered flying debris over several city blocks.

One person was injured Wednesday morning when the strongest tornado to hit the Los Angeles area in decades formed in threatening skies over the San Gabriel Valley community east of Los Angeles.

The tornado had winds of 86 mph to 110 mph, considered an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, when it touched down around 11:20 a.m. in an industrial area with several warehouses.

Hundreds of residents witnessed a tornado in Montebello on Wednesday morning, and they shared their experience with Telemundo 52 and NBCLA.

Seventeen buildings were damaged in the San Gabriel Valley community east of Los Angeles. Eleven of these structures had red tags, indicating that they are not safe to occupy. Flying debris damaged several cars in a nearby parking lot.

A woman was hospitalized with what city officials described as minor injuries.

Michael Turner described the sound of winds picking up speed as he sat in his office in the 33,000 square foot warehouse he owns. The lights started flashing, so he walked out to find his employees looking up, then he told everyone to come in.

“He has become very strong. Things were flying everywhere,” Turner told The Associated Press. “The whole factory turned into a big dump for a minute. Then when the dust settled, the place was a mess.”

Turner said a 5,000 square foot section of the roof was missing. A gas line was severed and high winds blew through the factory skylights. His polyester fiber business called Turner Fiberfill could be shut down for months, Turner said.

“I’ve been in California since 1965. I’ve never seen anything like it,” he told the AP. “Earthquakes, we’re used to that.”

Students from a high school in Montebello recount the moment the tornado passed.

None of its employees were injured.

The severe weather developed in an early spring storm that arrived on Tuesday and brought damaging winds, rain and more snow to the mountains. Another tornado touched down Tuesday night along the Santa Barbara County coast, damaging a trailer park in Carpinteria.

The relatively weak tornado with gusts of up to 75 mph damaged approximately 25 residences.

A rare tornado warning was issued Tuesday evening for parts of Ventura and Los Angeles counties. No warnings were issued ahead of Wednesday’s tornado in Montebello.

“With tornadoes affecting this area, they spin very fast,” said Ariel Cohen of the National Weather Service. “Sometimes too quick to detect or warn.”

The storm was expected to calm down Thursday and move away, leaving Southern California with dry conditions and cool temperatures.

This story first appeared on Telemundo 52’s sister station NBCLA. Click on here to read this story in English.

Associated Press contributed to this report

Ashley Johnson
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