Oregon Tornadoes

March 10, 2023

tornadoes in Oregon

While Oregon doesn’t see the kind of tornadoes that ravage other parts of the country, we do have a few small twisters here and there. And sometimes, a big one comes along.

If a tornado is in the area, hide in a safe place. Ideally, this will be in your home or a building that is lower than the ground level. If that’s not possible, lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area until the tornado passes.

Newport tornado

The Newport tornado caused a statewide disaster and left a searing memory for Oregonians. It killed 38 people and injured many more. It damaged 50,000 homes and livestock.

It destroyed barns and sheds, toppled houses, smashed bridges and fences, and blocked roads. It did 170-200 million dollars in damage (over 800 million in today's dollars).

The damage from this storm was so extensive that it left a lasting impression on a generation of Oregonians. It was the first documented tornado to hit the state of Oregon and shaped the way that a tornado is perceived.

Corvallis tornado

The Corvallis tornado in 2008 was one of the largest and most devastating tornadoes to hit Oregon. It wreaked havoc on the city and the surrounding areas, downing trees and power lines. The damage was costly, and many buildings were damaged or destroyed.

It’s not uncommon for the state to see a few tornadoes a year, especially in the Willamette Valley. But a large tornado - as the one in Oklahoma showed - doesn't happen often here, said George Taylor, a climatologist at Oregon State University.

This is because Oregon's weather doesn't hold as much water vapor as the air in tornado alley, Taylor says. So when warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico comes north into Oregon, it condenses, releasing heat.

Salem tornado

One of the most devastating tornadoes to hit Oregon occurred in Salem on December 14, 2010. This storm was rated EF5 with winds of up to 120 mph. It caused over 100 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

This was the worst natural disaster to hit Oregon in over a century. It destroyed many homes, and it also toppled a number of trees.

The cyclone hit Oregon from a long, low-pressure system in the Pacific Northwest. The low pressure area is normally not associated with strong cyclones in the Northwest, but the storm's speed and direction of travel allowed it to make landfall far south of its usual arc.

Medford tornado

The Medford tornado was one of the most violent and destructive tornadoes to ever strike Oregon. It destroyed 85/100 of the city and killed 17 people.

This was one of many devastating tornadoes that struck the state during the 20th century. It was also the most deadly tornado in Oregon’s history and the worst natural disaster to hit this state.

A supercell thunderstorm that developed near Redmond traveled nearly 200 miles before dissipating. It produced baseball-sized hail in cities from Condon to Hermiston and damaged the local watermelon crop, which was on the verge of harvest.

This storm was the precursor to the famous “Big Blow,” which hit on October 29th, 1963 and became the standard against which all other statewide disasters were measured. It did 170-200 million dollars in damage and wiped out an entire fruit and nut orchard.


Tornado Dave is the best place to learn more about severe weather and climate science. He's a veritable tornado of information, and he loves nothing more than educating others about the importance of being prepared for extreme weather events. Make sure to check in with Tornado Dave often, as he's always updating his blog with the latest news and information!
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