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Freak Storm Brings Tornadoes, Floods and Snow

Image Above: A funnel cloud reaches to the ground near March Air Reserve Base on Thursday afternoon, while just to the left, another one dissipates. Jeanne Prescott grabbed her camera and shot photos of the rare weather phenomenon after her 11-year-old son saw the first tornado out of their kitchen window.

California, USA
Two tornadoes barreled across Interstate 215 south of March Air Reserve Base on Thursday afternoon, knocking over a tractor trailer and several box cars in a FREAK STORM that also dumped snow in the mountains, triggered lightning, hail storms and mudslides, and flooded Inland roadways and homes. Cold, unstable ocean air collided with warm Southern California air, creating a volatile and UNUSUAL WEATHER PATTERN that could continue to produce thunderstorms and chilly weather through Saturday. "It's not just unusual, it's EXTREMELY UNUSUAL. You would expect this in January, February or March, but not in May." The wild weather system unleashed its fury throughout Southern California. It sparked 14 power pole and palm tree fires and triggered 20 weather-related traffic accidents in Riverside County. Mud flows swept down fire-scarred canyons in Orange County and thunderstorms broke out from Los Angeles to San Diego counties. Evacuation orders were issued to about 1,500 people. A column of dust and debris - more than 300 feet wide - swirled around the funnel cloud in a counter-clockwise motion, creating a funnel within a funnel. "I'm thinking, 'Tornadoes in California? No way." Motorists elsewhere in Riverside County encountered violent rain and hail the size of marbles. Some roads were flooded waist-deep. Snow fell overnight Wednesday in the mountains, coating some peaks but melting quickly at lower elevations. "It's bizarre. It's very late in the spring for this to be happening. I don't ever remember it snowing this late in the season." "This is the last gasp of Canadian air making the big break into Southern California. It's very cold, it's very unstable and when you get it in the late afternoon, you're getting the exact conditions that you get in the Midwest." But what made Thursday's events more unique was "the full menu" of weather - thunder, lightning, mudslides, hail and tornadoes. "This is a 10-courser."



Podcast: Wild Weather Stirs California


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