A weak tornado struck rural Watsonville last weekend, causing a mile-long path of damage near San Andreas Road, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Thursday.
The tornado came ashore from the Monterey Bay around 6:59 a.m. Saturday and lasted three minutes, according to NOAA. No one was injured.
The 75 mph winds uprooted trees and collapsed several commercial greenhouses at , a cut-flower grower about a quarter-mile inland, according to NOAA. The damage was on the south side of the farm.
"It's like the tornado just came up and stomped on it," Stuart Kitayama, general manager of the company, said when describing how the flattened greenhouses looked.
The impacted greenhouses were growing flowers for Valentine's Day, one of the biggest retail days of the year for the company, according to Kitayama. He said crews have patched together most of the damaged roofs and walls, and that some areas hit by the tornado had yet to be seeded. The loss "is not a huge amount," he said.
Kitayama Bros. had crews on Saturday morning, but they were not working in the greenhouses at the time the tornado struck.
The tornado started as a weak waterspout over the Monterey Bay. When it moved ashore it came across the beach, through a wooded area on a bluff and into farmland. The tornado cut an intermittent path about 20 yards wide and 1.07 miles long, NOAA reported.
The tornado was part of a stormy weekend in Northern California. Thunderstorms, hail and gusty winds were in the forecast Saturday and Sunday, and at least one forecaster said there was a possibility a tornado could develop.
Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin said: "I cannot rule out an isolated tornado within this due to the instability and shear dynamics."
The weather phenomenon that generated Saturday's tornado in Watsonville is rare on the Pacific coast. A similar event occurred over Orange County in January 2010, according to The Weather Space.
Kitayama said he's seen pictures of another tornado landing in the Watsonville area in the 1980s. That event damaged some of his family company's greenhouses on Crest Drive.
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