By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Local tornado classified as an EF1

Marcus Larson / News-RegisterThe tornado wasn t on the ground long in McMinnville, but it did a lot of damage.
Marcus Larson / News-Register
The tornado wasn't on the ground long in McMinnville, but it did a lot of damage.

With winds estimated at 86 to 90 miles per hour, it tore the roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and scattered debris about, primarily along Alpine Avenue in the Northeast Gateway District. But that only earned it an EF1 rating from the National Weather Service on a scale of 0 to 5.

Agency meteorologist Treena Hartley said lesser funnel clouds were reported Thursday in Hillsboro, Albany and Harrisburg. She said they were rated EFO, reserved for tornadoes featuring winds of 65 to 85 miles per hour.

The top category, EF5, is marked by wind speeds of more than 200 miles an hour. And one of that magnitude was recorded earlier this year in Oklahoma City.

No one was injured in the McMinnville touchdown, but Lafayette Avenue had to be closed for an hour or so afterward while crews worked to clear downed power lines and debris from buildings damaged on Alpine Avenue.

Homeward Bound Pets had been scheduled to have 50 cats dropped off at its thrift store site on Lafayette Avenue, following spaying or neutering at a clinic in Tigard, as part of the shelter’s monthly spay and neuter program.

Executive Director Dawn Witt said she received a phone call warning her the street was closed. When she learned it was because a tornado had touched down, she said, “All I could picture was those three little cats we had in the store going round in a cloud.”

The cats escaped injury, but a shed and some outdoor items at the shop did sustain damage, Witt said.

She phoned the delivery crew to divert the cats to the agency shelter, off Highway 18 on Loop Road. Then she began calling the cats’ owners to advise of the change in pickup location.

“The shelter only has about nine parking spaces, so we had cars parked all down Loop Road,” she said.

Although the majority of damage occurred on Alpine, a small building behind the thrift store lost its roof and part of its back wall, Witt said. A tree was broken in half, a sign badly bent, and bags of cans the store had collected for fund-raising were thrown across the parking lot, she said.

Tornadoes are rare in Oregon. The most notable one in recent years struck the city of Aumsville in December 2010. It damaged 50 homes and four businesses, causing $1 million in losses.

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