Tornado rips through Montebello; strongest tornado to hit Los Angeles-area in 40 years

The strongest tornado to hit the Los Angeles Metro area in 40 years ripped through parts of Montebello late Wednesday morning, causing damage to multiple buildings in the area, the National Weather Service Los Angeles confirmed. 

The twister touched down in the area of South Maple Avenue and Date Street, near Vail Ave., just after 11:20 a.m.  

Images from SkyFOX showed multiple cars damaged, with their windows blown out, fences destroyed, and roofs of buildings torn off. 


During a press conference Wednesday night, Montebello Fire Department said 17 buildings were damaged and 11 were red-tagged due to damage they suffered.  

Power was knocked out for hours in the area.

Residents in Montebello had their nerves rattled but thankfully, no major injuries were reported. One worker in the area was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. 

While a tornado in Montebello is rare, it isn't uncommon to see them in California. 

"At any place, in particular California, a tornado is highly unusual, however, if we look at the broader area of Southern California, or California in general, we do tend to see a number of tornadoes occur really each year, especially in the winter and early spring time when strong pacific storm systems move on shore and create favorable conditions," said Dr. Ariel Cohen with the National Weather Service. 

The National Weather Service confirmed Wednesday night that the tornado that hit Montebello was an EF1, which have wind speeds between 86 and 110 miles per hour. 

It was the strongest tornado to hit the LA Metro area since March 1983 when an F2 struck. The last time an EF1 was recorded was January 1998 in Long Beach. 

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"I was inside the building, and we have a window in the back of the building and somebody screamed ‘tornado!’ and I just started recording. Then I started to run when I noticed it was a real tornado; there was damage and everybody just started running," said Miguel, an employee of the Royal Paper Box Company. 

"It felt like a bomb or something exploded, but then you see everything flying around, all the debris. It just felt weird, you're not used to it," he added. 

According to the NWS, the tornado lasted about three minutes. 

Video shared with FOX 11 shows debris swirling into the air.


According to the National Weather Service (NWS), there are different types of tornadoes: a supercell tornado, landspouts and waterspouts. A landspout causes less damage than a typical tornado.

The NWS said they will be sending a "survey team" to the area to assess the damage. On Tuesday, they dispatched a team to Carpinteria, where a small tornado caused damage. Officials gave it an EF0 rating with winds estimated up to 75 mph.

Montebello Police are advising people to avoid the area of Washington Blvd. from Greenwood Ave. to Vail Ave. Officials said Washington Blvd. will be closed for the next few hours. Police recommended using Telegraph Rd. and Olympic Blvd. as alternate routes.  

Montebello is a city located roughly 10 miles east of downtown Los Angeles