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Rare Tornado Reportedly Touched Down in Oregon

Today's tornado reports. (Image credit: Storm Prediction Center.)

In a rare event, a tornado reportedly touched down near Salem, Ore., according to the National Weather Service.

A National Weather Service damage survey team has not yet confirmed the tornado, but preliminary reports from emergency personnel and images of the black funnel cloud and of the damage have all but confirmed the twister, said Gerald Macke, a meteorologist technician with the National Weather Service in Portland. [Related: What Day Had The Most Tornado Strikes?]

If the tornado is confirmed, it will be the year's first, according to data on the Storm Prediction Center website, a National Weather Service database for severe storms. Before today, Oregon has had only 11 tornadoes since 2005, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

Macke said that once or twice a year western Oregon may see a tornado, but they are usually weak, EF0-strength twisters. This storm, which hit Aumsville, was not typical.

"From what we've seen so far with this one it appears to be pretty strong," Macke told OurAmazingPlanet.

The tornado reportedly touched down near Aumsville around 12:00 p.m. PST today (Dec. 14). The Storm Prediction Center lists two separate tornado reports, about 15 minutes apart, both in Aumsville.

The reported damage includes uprooted trees, houses with missing roofs, and downed power lines that have trapped several people in cars, the Portland Oregonian reported. Roads were reportedly covered in debris and many auto accidents were reported by the Storm Prediction Center.

There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities from the storm, Macke said.

Reach OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel at Follow him on Twitter @btisrael.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.