Tornado rips apart buildings in McMinnville - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Tornado rips apart buildings in McMinnville

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MCMINNVILLE, OR (KPTV) -

A rare tornado in Oregon damaged four commercial buildings in McMinnville, but caused no injuries Thursday.

The EF-1 tornado formed at about 4:30 p.m. at the intersection of Northeast 11th Way and Alpine Avenue.

The wind was strong enough to tear the sheet metal off the roof of a storage garage and scatter pieces of wood around the property. Spencer Wriggelsworth, who owns the building, was sitting inside the auto repair shop when he heard the tornado approaching.

"It sounded like hail so I got up to see what it was and opened that door and the wind hit me," he said. "And I had a heck of a time getting that door shut. And then things started rattling and I said, 'It's time for me to leave,' so I went to the office."

Wrigglesworth's office was the safest place he could think of in the middle of the building. It may have saved his life because the strong winds started to tear his garage apart.

"I've been through tornadoes. (I was) raised in tornado country and it was a tornado. Because a straight wind just blows, this didn't it. It brought stuff clear over from 12th over here. A wind don't do that," he said.

Chris Longley watched the tornado tear through the neighborhood and rip the roof off the building across the street.

"It sounded like bombs going off. Like Baghdad or something," Longley said.

Another man nearby described the weather event as a "circular rain cloud."

"It was about 150 to 200 feet wide," said Richard Schoenthal.

The National Weather Service sent down some investigators from Portland on Thursday night. After looking at the damage, they confirmed the weather event was a tornado.

The NWS also confirmed three funnel cloud sightings around Oregon on Thursday, including in Hillsboro, Harrisburg and just south of Corvallis.

Firefighters said at least four buildings were damaged Thursday.

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