A tornado touched down in the area of Port Orchard, Wash., on Tuesday afternoon.
Homes were damaged and trees uprooted in Kitsap County, west of Seattle, when the tornado touched down just before 2 p.m.
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The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office called the damage “catastrophic,” saying it was contained to neighbourhoods east and south of a Walmart in Port Orchard. Power lines were down and roads were closed in the area, the sheriff’s office said.
“There’s quite a bit of residential damage,” Port Orchard public works director Mark Dorsey said.
“There’s going to be a dozen or so homes that people may not be staying in their house tonight and there’s definitely some commercial properties that sustained damage.”
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Footage from the region shows homes without roofs and trees that have been uprooted.
“If you’ve seen some of the pictures of roofs torn off and damaged houses and buildings… everybody’s freaking out because, this is Washington,” Dorsey said. “We don’t have tornadoes in Washington.”
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The South Kitsap School District says there are outages in the region and bus routes are delayed.
There are no reports of any injuries at this time.
The sheriff’s department is asking everyone to stay off the roads Lund, Bethel, Salmonberry, Harris and Chase.
All Port Orchard bus service, including Southworth, has been suspended.
In southern B.C., meteorologist Kristi Gordon says there is a risk of thunderstorms Tuesday with some hail possible but nothing like the intensity seen south of the border at this time.
Tornadoes are very rare for B.C.’s South Coast, although not unheard of, adds Gordon. The South Coast may get one tornado every 10 to 15 years.
Washington state averages 2.5 tornadoes a year, but December tornadoes are extremely rare, the National Weather Service service said on Twitter.
— With files from Nadia Stewart and The Associated Press
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