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Rare Tornado Touches Down in Washington State

A tornado in #BattleGround uprooted trees, sent shingles flying and disrupted gas lines on NE 14th Court. A tornado in #BattleGround uprooted trees, sent shingles flying and disrupted gas lines on NE 14th Court. (Photo: Ariane Kunze/Twitter)
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On Thursday, a tornado touched down near Battle Ground, Washington. According to the National Weather Service, the tornado was rated EF1 ("moderate"), with wind speeds up to 104 mph. It touched down twice along its two-mile path, destroying dozens of homes and uprooting trees.

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This tornado is part of a large weather system that brought heavy rains, landslides and floods to Oregon and lower Washington State during the past week.

While the Midwest and Southeast are used to seeing twisters, they are rare in the Northwest. According to NOAA, an annual average of three tornadoes touched down in the Northwest between 1991 and 2010.

Related: Quiz: How Much Do You Know About Tornadoes?

The moral of the story: A tornado can happen just about anywhere if the conditions are right. So even if you don't live in Tornado Alley, it pays to be prepared and know what to do.

If there's a tornado warning, meaning a funnel cloud has been spotted (a tornado watch just means conditions are right for a tornado), here's what to do if you're home:

  • Take cover in the basement away from the windows or an interior space such as a closet, bathroom or hallway on the main floor. Try not to position yourself under a part of the house where there’s something heavy above you, like the refrigerator or the piano.
  • Get under for a table or hold a mattress over you to help protect your head from flying debris.
  • Stay away from any heavy appliances or furniture to avoid injury.
  • Listen to the radio and don't leave your safe spot until you hear news that the storm has passed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all tornado injuries happen during tornado cleanup and rescue attempts. When leaving your shelter, be careful where you walk. Wear gloves, sturdy shoes and long sleeves when walking around debris. Don't go near any power lines or inside structures that may be unstable.

If you're in your car when a tornado strikes, don’t park under a bridge or overpass. It’s generally safer to be somewhere low and flat.

If you need to report damage to your home or business from the Battle Ground tornado, contact Clark County, Washington at 360-992-8000.

If your power is out, check out these power outage safety tips.

Here's something you can do to help protect your house (and car) in the event of a tornado: Know the trees on your property and whether any are damaged or diseased and in danger of falling in a storm.

Related: How to Survive a Tornado