Washington Tornadoes

March 10, 2023

tornadoes in Washington

Tornadoes are very rare in the Pacific Northwest, but they have occurred. They are typically weak, F0/EF-0 tornadoes.

Occasionally, a stronger tornado will occur. That's what happened Tuesday in Port Orchard, Washington.

1. EF-0

Tornadoes in Washington are incredibly rare, but they can occur. In fact, the District has only seen three tornadoes in the past 50 years, according to data from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center and Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

An EF-0 is the weakest tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale and has wind speeds between 105 and 137 mph. These tornadoes can cause minor damage like the loss of shingles, gutters or metal siding.

The surface of a home's roof can be peeled off, awnings may get pulled off, and windows can break. Mobile homes can be pushed off their foundations.

Despite their rarity, a tornado can do significant damage to a community. Typical EF-3 rated tornadoes have winds between 136-165 mph and can level well-built homes, throw cars a significant distance, and collapse walls of masonry buildings.

2. EF-1

A tornado is a natural phenomenon that occurs when strong winds hit an area. Often, they are powerful enough to damage and destroy buildings.

EF-1 tornadoes can range from 86 to 110 miles per hour, though they are much rarer than EF-3s and EF-4s. They can tear up large trees and homes.

Washington has an average of 2.5 tornadoes each year. EF-1 tornadoes have also been reported in Alabama, Virginia, Kansas, Montana and South Dakota this year.

The EF-Scale is an enhanced version of the Fujita scale that was devised by a team of meteorologists and engineers at Texas Tech University. It is still a set of wind estimates based on the damage, but uses three-second gusts estimated at the point of damage. This helps better correlate wind speeds with storm damage.

3. EF-2

The EF-2 rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale is given to tornadoes that have wind speeds that reach between 111 and 135 mph. These are the most powerful tornadoes and can cause serious damage to buildings.

Tornadoes with these winds can tear the roofs off of well-constructed homes and destroy mobile homes. They can also uproot and snap trees.

Washington State does not see many tornadoes, with an average of 2.5 per year. Most of those are rated EF-0, which cause minor damage.

In addition to EF-0 and EF-1 tornadoes, Washington state has seen a few EF-2 tornadoes this year. One of those hit Port Orchard on Tuesday afternoon. It caused some serious damage to several buildings in one neighborhood. The tornado lasted nearly two miles. Another one struck Greene County near the Pennsylvania border Monday evening. It destroyed a barn and camper, uprooted trees and damaged a home.

4. EF-3

Tornadoes in Washington are extremely rare, averaging only 2.5 tornadoes a year. There are several reasons for this: The area is mostly rural, there are few trees and the tornadoes often don’t cause much damage.

EF-3: Wind speeds between 136-165 mph are considered EF-3, which can cause significant damage. They can tear roofs off of houses, level large buildings, knock off a home’s foundation and destroy mobile homes.

This was the case in Tibbie on Tuesday when an EF-3 hit the area. It tore the roof off of a house, shattered windows and destroyed many large fir trees.

This is one of the few EF-3 tornadoes to hit Washington in the past 40 years. In fact, it was the strongest one to hit the state since 1986. Thankfully no one was killed and the only major damage was to the fir trees that were severely damaged. But the whole experience was very scary for residents.


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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