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Tornado warning issued for parts of L.A. as big storm moves in [Updated]

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for the South Los Angeles, Long Beach and Whittier areas as a powerful new storm moves ashore.

The warning is expected to be in place for at least 45 minutes.

Radar shows heavy rain falling in Long Beach, with the storm moving in at 35 mph to the northeast. There were also reports of thunder and lightning across the region.

Forecasters said the storm was capable of producing a tornado, but there was no evidence at this time that any tornadoes have developed on land.

[Updated at 1:03 p.m.: The tornado warning was extended to Orange County. In Seal Beach, officials were urging people to get off the beach. In San Pedro, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported major street flooding in areas near the harbor and ocean.

In East Long Beach, flood waters rose above some streets and were filling the grass areas in front of some homes. There were reports of power outages, though exactly how widespread they were is not clear.

The Orange County Sheriff's Department is checking a report that a car driving on Pacific Coast Highway might have been damaged by the storm, but officials have not confirmed this.

Huntington Beach lifeguards said no waterspouts -- or offshore tornadoes -- have been spotted. The beaches were mostly empty while waves surged, lightning struck and wind reached gusts of 52 miles per hour, said Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Mike Beuerlein.

Newport Beach was seeing wind gusts of over 72 miles per hour and has closed jetties due to high surf, but has seen no tornadoes or waterspouts, said Jennifer Schulz of the Newport Beach Fire Dept.]

Piers along the Southern California coast were being closed today as huge waves surged onto beaches and harbors with a rainstorm that is expected to bring wind, thunder and lightning.

Ventura police closed the city's nearly 2,000-foot wooden pier this morning as a precaution; no damage was reported. But huge waves crashed near beachfront homes. "We're expecting some pretty big surf," said Sgt. Jack Richards.

Lifeguards also closed the Hermosa Beach Pier and were in the process of closing the Manhattan Beach pier, according to Los Angeles County lifeguards.

The National Weather Service issued an urban and small stream flood advisory for Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

A high surf advisory is in effect through Friday and the National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood watch starting tonight through late Wednesday, saying very large surf combined with strong wind is expected to push water into low-lying areas during high tide.

The largest waves will appear Wednesday and Thursday, when breakers could reach as high as 25 feet.

"The surf is very large," Capt. Mike Patterson of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Lifeguard Division said while looking at 15-foot waves at the Hermosa Beach pier, where gates were locked this morning. "It's another facet of the weather."

A second in a series of four storms is sweeping across Southern California today, prompting power outages and fears of mud flows in hillsides stripped of vegetation because of recent wildfires.

Rain should turn into heavy showers with thunder, lightning and gusty winds by this afternoon and evening, dumping between ¾ and 1 ½ inches, according to forecasters. The storm could bring hail and weak, isolated tornadoes inland and off the coast.

"It's a fast mover with gusty winds behind it, so it should be out of the area before midnight," said Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard. Authorities are urging caution during the afternoon commute, when the brunt of today's storm is expected to hit. They are also warning people to stay inside during the lightning and thunder.

"If you hear it roar, go indoors," Seto said.

-- Paloma Esquivel in Orange County, Cathleen Decker and Ruben Vives in Long Beach, Andrew Blankstein and Tony Barboza

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Comments () | Archives (52)

We need the rain.

And some people still don't believe in global warming..

Something wrong here. If it is a "warning", then by definition a tornado has been spotted, either by a reliable witness or radar. If a storm is capable of generating a tornado, then they issue a tornado "watch". It looks like this should be a tornado "watch".

Kind of a flub for the L.A. times, a tornado 'watch' means conditions are right for the formation of a tornado.
A tornado 'WARNING' means a tornado has been spotted in the area.

Wow apparently I'm the only person in southern california that knows the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning! Score one for media sensationalism.

I don't get why the weather service is using the term "Tornado Warning". The proper term, from descriptions of the conditions mentioned in news right now in LA area would be "Tornado Watch". See this link for accurate information, please!...

http://www.itlnet.net/Tornado/

A Tornado Watch is the term used when weather conditions are tornado-prone, but no tornado funnel has been seen. This "watch" just means to keep in touch with news and wait to hear if there is a need to go into hiding. With a Tornado Watch, you should also keep an eye out for suspicious clouds and travelling funnels and report them to a designated agency. A Tornado Warning, however, means that a tornado funnel cloud has been spotted... and in this case, everyone in the affected areas is instructed to take cover-- which means not just stay inside a solid building, but to go underground (basement if possible), or in an interior hallway, bathtub, or some other structurally strong area of a building until further notice... and if out in a car or outdoors, pull over, get outside, and lie down flat in a ditch or low area.

As a native midwesterner who has seen tornadoes spinning and had to go through tornado drills like CA does with earthquake drills... believe me, i know the difference. I've seen buildings completely flattened by them. They kill people and destroy everything in their path.

If you're going to send such an unusual "warning" about tornadoes in a place that isn't accustomed to them, then the terminology should be correct and sent out with detailed information about what the terms mean, and how to safely take cover. You can't predict or see an earthquake, but you can predict and see tornadoes oftentimes, and you can take cover before they hit.

I hope they'll resend a correct announcement, with instruction about how to identify tornado clouds/funnels and how to report them during a "Watch", which is now... and then if a "Warning" is issued, that it will accompany accurate and complete info about what to do.

this should be called a "watch" if conditions are present, but none sighted yet ... "warning" usually means one has been spotted ...

does this mean a tornado with an actual funnel or just high winds ?

Clearly, Angelinos don't know the difference between a tornado warning and a tornado watch.

Nevermind, at least the readers get it ;)

LOL - Looks like the LA Times counts plenty of Midwestern transplants among its readers! The tornado warning/watch thing caught my eye right away, too.

Stop fighting over warning versus watch. Here's your warning:
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/video?id=6160908#global

Scare people enough and they will sit on your site hitting F5 all day. Fear always works. :)

This would not be an indication of global warming, it is the opposite. Global cooling would cause this.

Although there is no mention of it here, there was a tornado that touched down in Long Beach. As for global warming, a tornado is caused when temperatures DROP after being warm. Storms and tornados have happened for years, global warming is not causing the tornados. It's just a little thing called mother nature sharing some of the great weather other parts of the world get.

@socal

So El Ninos are the product of global warming now? When will the global warming cult get a clue?

The Times is reporting CORRECTLY what the National Weather Service issued:

Tornado Warning
TORNADO WARNING
CAC059-192200-
/O.NEW.KSGX.TO.W.0002.100119T2128Z-100119T2200Z/

BULLETIN - EAS ACTIVATION REQUESTED
TORNADO WARNING
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN DIEGO CA
128 PM PST TUE JAN 19 2010

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN SAN DIEGO HAS ISSUED A

* TORNADO WARNING FOR...
ORANGE COUNTY IN SOUTHWEST CALIFORNIA...
THIS INCLUDES THE CITIES OF...WESTMINSTER...TUSTIN FOOTHILLS...
TUSTIN...STANTON...SEAL BEACH...SANTA ANA...IRVINE...HUNTINGTON
BEACH...FULLERTON...COSTA MESA...ANAHEIM...

* UNTIL 200 PM PST

* AT 121 PM PST...NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED
A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO BETWEEN
NEWPORT BEACH AND HUNTINGTON BEACH...MOVING NORTHEAST AT 30 MPH. A
WATERSPOUT WAS SIGHTED AT 102 PM MOVING NORTHEAST TOWARD THE COAST.
THE STORM WAS MOVING NORTHEAST AT ABOUT 30 MPH.

PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

IN ADDITION TO THE TORNADO...THIS STORM IS CAPABLE OF PRODUCING 1
INCH DIAMETER SIZE HAIL AND DESTRUCTIVE STRAIGHT LINE WINDS.

WHEN A TORNADO WARNING IS ISSUED BASED ON DOPPLER RADAR...IT MEANS
THAT STRONG ROTATION HAS BEEN DETECTED IN THE STORM. A TORNADO MAY
ALREADY BE ON THE GROUND...OR IS EXPECTED TO DEVELOP SHORTLY. IF YOU
ARE IN THE PATH OF THIS DANGEROUS STORM...MOVE INDOORS AND TO THE
LOWEST LEVEL OF THE BUILDING. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS. IF DRIVING...DO
NOT SEEK SHELTER UNDER A HIGHWAY OVERPASS.

THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE DURING A TORNADO IS IN A BASEMENT. GET UNDER A
WORKBENCH OR OTHER PIECE OF STURDY FURNITURE. IF NO BASEMENT IS
AVAILABLE...SEEK SHELTER ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF THE BUILDING IN AN
INTERIOR HALLWAY OR ROOM SUCH AS A CLOSET. USE BLANKETS OR PILLOWS TO
COVER YOUR BODY AND ALWAYS STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.

IF IN MOBILE HOMES OR VEHICLES...EVACUATE THEM AND GET INSIDE A
SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER. IF NO SHELTER IS AVAILABLE...LIE FLAT IN THE
NEAREST DITCH OR OTHER LOW SPOT AND COVER YOUR HEAD WITH YOUR HANDS.

&&

LAT...LON 3359 11793 3361 11798 3374 11811 3375 11811
3388 11800 3394 11795 3394 11793 3374 11758
3358 11790
TIME...MOT...LOC 2114Z 238DEG 26KT 3368 11797

$$

SMALL/ATKIN

Tornado warnings. Rain pouring. Wind blowing. Lightning flashing. Thunder crashing. Trees falling. Hail pounding. Mud flowing. Boulders tumbling. Houses sliding. Ahhh. Just another beautiful day in the foothills of Southern California. At least the ground isn't shaking. Yet.

First off, I the text from the San Diego National Weather Service office clearly states warning. I am pretty sure they didn't screw up.

Secondly, there can be two types of warnings. Spotter-indicated warnings and radar-indicated warnings. This was a radar-indicated warning. Dopplar radar showed strong rotation indicating a tornado was developing or on the ground.

Come on folks....be nice...most Californians have only read about such events in the encyclopedia. What a hoot...this happens anywhere else it is a non-event. But just the thought of one in LA and it becomes national news.

Time to change the channel.

@MWB and Kelly
There was a tornado spotted off the coast of Long Beach.
Therefore it would be a warning and the article is correct.

I love California. A spot of unruly weather, and people flip out. Hahaaha. Tornado "warning?" Hahaahaha.

Rather than ripping on the LAT for poor reporting, how about checking on the notice put out by the NWS? Apparently there was a waterspout reported at 1:02PM, and significant rotation was observed on doppler radar, thus necessitating the issuance of a warning. LAT reported correctly.

http://forecast.weather.gov/showsigwx.php?warnzone=CAZ042&warncounty=CAC059&firewxzone=CAZ242&local_place1=Irvine+CA&product1=Tornado+Warning

Cooling is obviously a side effect of global warming. As the planet heats up, poles melt, creating cooler oceans which creates colder weather and storms.

Global warming? wouldent this rather be the sudden cooling mixing with the normal air that was there?...

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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