1972 Portland–Vancouver tornadoes

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1972 Portland–Vancouver tornadoes
DurationApril 5, 1972
Tornadoes confirmed4[1]
Max. rating1F3 tornado
Duration of tornado outbreak26 hours
Highest gust65 mph (105 km/h)
Portland International Airport[2]
Damage$25.55 million (1972 USD)[3]
Casualties6 fatalities, 301 injuries
Areas affectedNorthern Oregon, Washington

1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale
2Time from first tornado to last tornado

An unusually intense squall line with embedded strong tornadoes struck Oregon and Washington on Wednesday, April 5, 1972. Of the four tornadoes, the most catastrophic event was a deadly F3 tornado that struck Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington, the first F3 tornado to strike Oregon since June 3, 1894. Dubbed the 1972 Portland–Vancouver Tornado, the tornado tracked 8.7 miles (14.0 km) across the heavily populated Portland–Vancouver metropolitan area, causing heavy damage, killing six people, and injuring 300 while causing $25.25 million (1972 USD) in damage. It was the deadliest tornado in the United States in 1972 and remains the deadliest tornado in the history of the Pacific Northwest.[4][5] In all, the outbreak killed six, injured 301, and caused $25.55 million in damage.

Meteorological synopsis[edit]

A sharp cold front triggered an intense squall line that moved into the Pacific Northwest during the late morning hours of April 5, 1972. After moving inland, the storms produced strong winds, large hail, and tornadoes to the region. Weakening of the storms did not take place until late that evening; by then storms had moved over 50 miles (80 km) inland.[6]

Confirmed tornadoes[edit]

Confirmed tornadoes by Fujita rating
FU F0 F1 F2 F3 F4 F5 Total
0 0 0 2 2 0 0 4

April 5 event[edit]

List of confirmed tornadoes – Wednesday, April 5, 1972[nb 1][nb 2]
F# Location County / Parish State Start
coord.
Time (UTC) Path length Max. width Summary Refs.
F3 Faloma, OR to Image, WA to SE of Mill Plain, WA Multnomah (OR), Clark (WA) OR, WA 45°36′N 122°38′W / 45.60°N 122.63°W / 45.60; -122.63 (Faloma (April 5, F3)) 20:30–21:00 8.7 miles (14.0 km) 400 yards (370 m) 6 deaths – See section on this tornado – 300 people were injured and losses totaled $25.25 million. [6][8][9]
[10]
F2 Hartline Grant WA 47°42′N 119°06′W / 47.70°N 119.10°W / 47.70; -119.10 (Hartline (April 5, F2)) 00:30–? 0.1 miles (0.16 km) 10 yards (9.1 m) A wind event/possible tornado was later confirmed to be a tornado along with large hail up to 2 inches (5.1 cm). Flowers and shrub leaves were shredded, paint surfaces were speckled and peeled, four graineries were destroyed, and many buildings were damaged. Losses from the tornado reached $25,000. [6][11][12]
F3 Creston Lincoln WA 47°45′N 118°31′W / 47.75°N 118.52°W / 47.75; -118.52 (Creston (April 5, F3)) 01:30–? 3–4 miles (4.8–6.4 km) 83 yards (76 m) A twin-funneled, strong tornado moved through the east side of Creston. A trailer was obliterated, critically injuring the woman inside, and another was moved 3 feet (0.91 m) off its foundation. Two barns and a chicken house were destroyed as well. Losses totaled $250,000. [6][13][14]
F2 W of Kettle Falls Stevens WA 48°36′N 118°06′W / 48.60°N 118.10°W / 48.60; -118.10 (Kettle Falls (April 5, F2)) 02:30–? 1 mile (1.6 km) 100 yards (91 m) Trees were damaged in circular pattern near the mouth of the Colville River, including some that were uprooted. Losses totaled $25,000. [6][15][16]

Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington[edit]

Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington
F3 tornado
Max. rating1F3 tornado
Damage$25.25 million
Casualties6 fatalities, 300 injuries
1Most severe tornado damage; see Fujita scale

The National Weather Service tracked a very turbulent squall line of thunderstorms moving northeasterly across Portland, Oregon, the strongest of which was near the city of Tigard. The tornado formed from this storm and touched down near the edge of the Columbia River, moving 1½ miles before crossing the river. The tornado was difficult to observe because of the fog and the mud and flying debris drawn up by the tornado. After making landfall on the Washington side of the river, it continued its 9-mile (14 km) journey before dissipating.[5] The storm was classed as a tornado by the National Weather Service on April 6.[17]

In Portland, Oregon, the tornado damaged four boat moorings and 50 small boats. Damage in Oregon from the tornado totaled up to $250,000 (1972 USD).[5]

Vancouver, Washington suffered the most significant damage from the tornado. The tornado struck east Vancouver at 12:51 p.m. (PST) on April 5, 1972, where it destroyed a grocery store, along with Peter S. Ogden Elementary School injuring 70 students.[18] Nearby, the storm demolished a bowling alley, a drive-in theater screen and damaged around 100 homes, some severely. Trees and power lines were downed and several vehicles were flipped as well.[19] The Oregon National Guard and the Oregon State Police crossed the state border to help transport the injured and direct traffic in the aftermath of the tornado.[20]

Non-tornadic events[edit]

High winds brought by the thunderstorms caused minimal tree damage. In Tigard, the thunderstorm that spawned the tornado tore the roof off a warehouse and damaged several parked cars. A pressure jump of 0.12 inches (3.0 mm) was recorded by the National Weather Service. The Portland, Oregon National Weather Service office, approximately one mile east of the tornado touchdown, recorded winds gusting up to 63 mph (101 km/h). Another weather station reported sustained winds of 80 mph (130 km/h).[5]

Aftermath[edit]

Overall, the Portland–Vancouver F3 tornado killed six people and left $25.25 million (1972 USD) in damage.[4] The small outbreak was the deadliest and most significant tornado event to occur in the Pacific Northwest, with winds of up to 206 miles per hour (332 km/h).[21]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ All dates are based on the local time zone where the tornado touched down; however, all times are in Coordinated Universal Time and dates are split at midnight CST/CDT for consistency.
  2. ^ Prior to 1994, only the average widths of tornado paths were officially listed.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "April 5, 1972 Tornadoes". Tornado History Project. Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Oregon Event Report: 55 kts. Thunderstorm Wind". National Weather Service. National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Tornado Summaries". National Weather Service. National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  4. ^ a b ""Tornado of April 5, 1972, Vancouver, Washington" Details". Waymark. Retrieved 2006-12-05.
  5. ^ a b c d National Weather Service (2006). "NWS Oregon Tornadoes". NOAA. Retrieved 2006-12-05.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Storm Data Publication | IPS | National Climatic Data Center (NCDC)". www.ncdc.noaa.gov. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  7. ^ Brooks, Harold E. (April 2004). "On the Relationship of Tornado Path Length and Width to Intensity". Weather and Forecasting. Boston: American Meteorological Society. 19 (2): 310. doi:10.1175/1520-0434(2004)019<0310:OTROTP>2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Oregon-Washington F3". Tornado History Project. Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  9. ^ Oregon Event Report: F3 Tornado. National Weather Service (Report). National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  10. ^ Washington Event Report: F3 Tornado. National Weather Service (Report). National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Washington F2". Tornado History Project. Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  12. ^ Washington Event Report: F2 Tornado. National Weather Service (Report). National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Washington F3". Tornado History Project. Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  14. ^ Washington Event Report: F3 Tornado. National Weather Service (Report). National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  15. ^ "Washington F2". Tornado History Project. Storm Prediction Center. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  16. ^ Washington Event Report: F2 Tornado. National Weather Service (Report). National Centers for Environmental Information. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  17. ^ Spiro, Richard (April 7, 1972). "Vancouver twister classified tornado by weather bureau". Longview Daily News. Longview, WA. p. 5 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ "Columbian.com - History". Archived from the original on March 7, 2007.
  19. ^ NBC Evening News (1972). "Headline: Washington Tornado". Vanderbilt Television Archive. Archived from the original on 2009-05-13. Retrieved 2006-12-05.
  20. ^ "6 Die, 250 Hurt as Wind Rips Roofs Off School, Stores". The Muncie Star. Muncie, IN. UPI. April 6, 1972. p. 2 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ Robinson, Erik (April 5, 2002). "Vancouver's tornado of 1972: What a twister turned deadly". The Columbian. p. A1.