A tornado ripped through an industrial area of Montebello on Wednesday, carving a path of destruction that included damage to several buildings and cars, the National Weather Service confirmed.
The twister touched down at 11:14 a.m. and was on the ground for two to three minutes, NWS said. Aerial footage from Sky5 showed roofs damaged and debris scattered across the area of South Vail Street and Washington Boulevard.
The National Weather Service immediately dispatched a team to Montebello, a city eight miles east of downtown Los Angeles, to assess the damage.
Officials later determined the tornado was an EF1 on the Enhanced Fujita scale with peak winds of 110 miles per hour. It was approximately 50 yards wide and covered four-tenths of a mile.
Seventeen structures were damaged, 11 “significantly,” and one person was injured, NWS said.
The owner of a recycling company in the area said he was driving when the weather event occurred. He later saw the storm had torn off the roof of the building next door.
“All the windows of the cars were shattered … it was just a mess,” he said. “I saw cars just swiveling through the streets and it was just the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. I was only a few inches away, I had to reverse out of it.”
Rudy Garcia, a local gas station employee, said he was working when the tornado touched down.
“When I turned around, there was just debris, pretty much as high as a helicopter would be, super, super high,” Garcia said.
The tornado was so powerful it blew out the windows and a sign at the gas station where Garcia works.
“That’s when I went inside, to cover up. I was trying to hold the door, but I couldn’t hold it,” he said.
This was the strongest tornado to impact the Los Angeles metropolitan area in 40 years, officials said.
The last confirmed twister in L.A. County toppled several trees in the Whittier and La Mirada area in February.
The NWS also sent a team to southeast Santa Barbara County where another twister damaged mobile homes Tuesday evening.