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Butte Valley tornado damage assessment and strength rating

An EF-1 tornado impacted Butte Valley on Wednesday with damage reported on several properties.

Posted: Nov 21, 2020 6:53 PM
Updated: Nov 23, 2020 11:21 AM

BUTTE VALLEY, Calif. - An EF-1 tornado impacted Butte Valley on Wednesday with damage reported on several properties.

The power of mother nature is awesome and terrible and has been brought to bear in the small community of Butte Valley.

On Wednesday, a strong thunderstorm moved through Butte Valley, a rural community between Concow and Oroville in Butte County.

No "Tornado Warning" was ever issued for the storm. Residents of the area notified Action News Now and shared video and pictures.

The tornado touched down just after 2 p.m. and then began causing damage in parts of Butte Valley.

Watch the video to see the tornado and to find out what Action News Now meteorologist Bryan Ramsey discovered when looking into the unusual weather incident.

Slickens Ranch was the first to report damage.

Dozens of trees were flattened or stripped, fencing was blown over and barn roofs were taken off by strong winds. Roof shingles from a home also littered the yard.

"Our daughter Amy was here and she said that it was kind of you know a normal big time thunderstorm like we get, and she thought it was pretty neat and raining really hard and then she said a really strong wind came up and she happened to be within sight of this huge tree behind us and she actually saw the roots starting to lift. She grabbed her dog and ran to the back of the house because she thought the tree was gonna hit the house. She said it lasted just seconds, like it was just over so fast," said Kay Nelms, ranch owner in Butte Valley.

The tornado tracked at least two miles, as a home 2 miles away from the first visible damage also had some destruction.

Broken windows & twisted trees were clear on one side of the property.

Powerful winds also lifted or rolled a car, carrying it almost 20 feet away.

Spring Valley Elementary School was also brushed by the tornado. The children remain safe and the building undamaged.

Given what we know, how strong was this tornado?

Tornado strength is determined by the Enhanced Fujita Scale. Abbreviated as EF. It goes from EF-0 to EF-5.

An EF-5 tornado is rare with winds over 200 mph and can cause complete devastation.

Our tornado was on the weaker side of things.

The National Weather Service is giving at an EF-1 rating, for now. A tornado with wind speeds of 86 to 110 mph. Most of the damage is consistent with this rating. But only an EF-2 tornado, with wind speeds of 111 to 135 mph, could toss a car 20 feet.

Residents in the area say it will be much more difficult to get help from the insurance companies ever since the Camp Fire happened in 2018. 

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Oroville
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Above average temperatures and sunny skies will be in in the forecast for the next 7 days. Sadly, no rain.
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