What's That? Tornado Hits Seattle

What's That? Tornado Hits Seattle »Play Video
SEATTLE - If you thought the weather earlier this week was rather weird, you're right. In fact, it was downright historic.

After seeing the evidence, a weather expert says a strong wind that tossed around children on a West Seattle playground on Monday was a tornado, something we rarely see in this part of the world.

Brad Colman of the National Weather Service says that after viewing video from KOMO's Columbia Center Cam, and considering other evidence, there are no other explanations.

"All the evidence we have clearly points to a weak tornado," he said.

Daycare students in the path of the tornado at Gatewood Elementary School in West Seattle had never seen anything like it.

"The wind picked me up," said 4-year-old Todiyah Himmelman.

"She says she flew through the air," said daycare teacher Dwayne Wagner. "Actually she was holding onto the teacher, who flew the other way and they were separated."

The wind also lifted other students briefly.

"It just happened," says 9-year old Ellen McMahon. "I just flew and before I knew I was flying and I was on the ground again."

None of the students were injured.

Tornadoes Are Rare, But Not Impossible

Western Washington experiences only a few tornadoes each year. The last major tornado in Western Washington touched down in Vancouver on April 5th, 1972, and killed six people.

Colman says this week's tornado was probably caused by a combination of Monday's thunder clouds and winds from the Puget Sound Convergence Zone -- wind blowing inland from the ocean that is split by the Olympic mountain range and then converges, usually around the King-Snohomish county line.

It was a tornado that was too weak to cause damage, and too brief for radar to spot, but visible from a KOMO Cam and forever a memory of some children in West Seattle.

Note that while the photo doesn't show the classic tornado vortex reaching the ground, you can still get tornado-like winds on the surface under the funnel.

Larger Versions Of The Tornado Image

Close Photo
Wider Photo

Non-Streamed Quicktime Movie

If you're Internet connection isn't fast enough to stream the Quicktime movie, you can click on this link to download the movie.