Weather News

Davis tornado ‘has been confirmed’: Weather service reveals new details on rare event

Weather experts on Sunday completed a survey of the site and confirmed that Saturday’s weather event north of Davis was a weak, or “gale,” tornado, according to the National Weather Service.

The tornado formed about 6:40 p.m. and ended about 6:55 p.m., with wind speeds estimated between 68 to 74 mph, as it touched down just north of Wildhorse Golf Club in Yolo County, the NWS Sacramento office said in a tweet Monday morning.

Those wind speed register as an “EF0” on the Enhanced Fujita scale, the weakest reading still considered a tornado. EF0 tornadoes, aka “gale” tornadoes, can cause minor damage to buildings, break tree branches or knock down weak-rooted trees, and damage sign boards, according to an explanation of the scale on the NWS Storm Prediction Center website.

“No damage was found or reported” at the tornado site, the NWS tweeted, but “(g)iant tumbleweeds” were sent airborne Saturday evening.

No injuries were reported.

The NWS tweeted earlier that a series of “gustnadoes” closer to UC Davis preceded the tornado by about 10 minutes. Gustnadoes are not connected with clouds and are not tornadoes.

How rare are tornadoes in California?

The National Weather Service says about 11 tornadoes were reported in California each year between 1991 and 2010.

During that same span, Texas had 155 per year, Kansas had 96, Florida had 66 and Oklahoma had 62. Only Rhode Island and Alaska had zero.

As for Northern California, NWS says the Sacramento Valley has observed 101 tornadoes between 1950 and 2018. Only three of those occurred in September, and only 21 were recorded in June or later.

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Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.