Saturday's storm wasn't a tornado
A team from the National Weather Service in Pendleton found that the storm that ripped through Jefferson County on Saturday, May 30, was a thunderstorm that produced extreme straight-line winds, not a tornado.
The storm lasted from 1:45 to 3 p.m. and produced winds between 70 and 100 miles per hour, according to a National Weather Service statement Monday, June 1.
A concentrated swath of extreme straight-line winds affected the Culver and Metolius areas of Jefferson County.
Within this narrow swath, there were numerous large trees uprooted or snapped, hundreds of yards of irrigation line dislodged and mangled, and several snapped or leaning power poles. Some of the more significant damage included the destruction of a handful of agricultural outbuildings and partial or total roof removal of at least two manufactured homes. A couple of high tension power line structures were also affected, with two of the towers partially destroyed.
Despite the intensity of the damage, a National Weather Service survey team found that the bulk of the damage was blown either from south to north or from southwest to northeast. That indicates the prevalence of a divergent straight-line wind pattern rather than the circular convergent pattern associated with a tornado.
Based on the damage, the team determined that wind speeds in the most affected area ranged from 60 to 70 mph for the lower-end damage of trees, irrigation lines and outbuildings, and 80 to 100 mph for the most significant destruction.
Winds within an EF-1 tornado range from 86 to 109 mph.
"Even though no tornado could be confirmed, such intense straight-line winds are equally capable of significant and life-threatening damage," the statement said.
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