Along with the usual rain and snow, this week’s storm brought a funnel cloud to Calaveras County.
While driving along Highway 26 near Burson, local resident Ryan Smith captured some photos of a funnel cloud around 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
“Yesterday, we did see some thunderstorms around the area,” said Emily Heller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s (NWS) Sacramento office. “Almost every thunderstorm, just with the environment yesterday, was rotating at some point. We’ve gotten multiple reports of funnel clouds. In Calaveras County, we have no reports of any confirmed touchdowns.”
Heller said that funnel clouds are not unusual in Northern California.
“It just depends on the environment and exactly what kind of storm it is,” she said, “Around this time of year, when we do get thunderstorms and it’s a little bit colder, we do see funnel clouds a lot here. Most of the time though, they’re just kind of scary, and don’t make it to the ground.”
Tornadoes are also not that unusual, Heller said, but they tend to be relatively brief and weak.
“We have those weird tornadoes that will touch down for about 30 seconds here, so they’re pretty hard to catch,” she said. “I would say we probably see a few every year, but I think we’ve never gotten stronger than an EF3 in California, and most of the time, all of our tornadoes are basically EF0s – pretty weak, and just kind of forming, touching down, and going back up.”
An EF0 signifies 3-second gusts of between 65 and 85 mph, while an EF3 means 3-second gusts of between 136 and 165 mph.
The NWS reported that one tornado was confirmed between Oroville and Concow around 2 p.m. on Wednesday, resulting in damage to trees and fences, as well as other damage. Another tornado briefly touched down between Eldorado Hills and Placerville around 3:45 p.m., but no damage was reported.
Heller said that the storm brought about three-quarters of an inch of precipitation to the lower elevations of Calaveras County, and up to 2.5 inches in the higher elevations.
Bear Valley Resort, which plans on opening Thanksgiving weekend, reported 8 inches of fresh snow during the storm.