LONGVIEW, Wash. - A powerful tornado raced through the heart of Longview Thursday afternoon, tearing apart roofs ripping down power lines and uprooting trees.
The tornado started near the Safeway in Longview on 15th Avenue and travelled six blocks down Vandercook Way.
The tornado swept through the area and died out within minutes, but residents watched as wind knocked shingles off of buildings and blew trash through streets near the city of Kelso.
The National Weather Service also issued a severe thunderstorm warning Thursday for the northwestern region of Grays Harbor County, predicting the possibility of quarter-sized hail and winds that could reach 58 mph or greater.
“It started right in front of me,” said Charles Strozyk. “I just watched the stuff go flying.”
Eyewitness watched the funnel cloud descend from dark gray storm clouds around 1 p.m., then ran for cover as the twister roared down Vandercook Way for about six blocks.
“It was like a waterfall going a thousand miles an hour,” said Dan Lewis. “I ran for the back corner.”
“All of the sudden you started hearing popping and everything from other building. Somebody yelled, 'tornado!' and we all ran inside,” said Steve Scott.
Several downtown businesses suffered roof damage as the tornado ripped huge openings in the buildings. Longview Sewing owner Bradley Parker said he’d have to remove all his inventory because of damage to the roof of his business. Parker said employees and customers took cover as the twister tore into the building for 30 seconds.
“It was a very long 30 seconds, very long,” said Parker. “But everybody was good. Nobody got hurt. That’s the thing that matters most.”
There were no reported injuries. As of Thursday night the Cowlitz County Department of Emergency Management did not have an estimate of the cost of the damage.
A partial solar eclipse occurred Thursday afternoon, with its maximum eclipse at 3:01 p.m.
Viewing was not optimal within Western Washington, as showers and storms persisted throughout the area.
Many KIRO 7 viewers were still able to view the eclipse and shared photographs from areas including Marysville, Puyallup, and Bremerton.
Thunderstorms moved into Seattle during the mid-afternoon. Lightning was detected by KIRO 7's StormTracker.
Small hail was reported in Montlake.
By 4:00 p.m., thunderstorms had congregated in the areas of Maltby, Monroe, and Sultan.
Around 4:45, heavy storms were detected near Renton and Duvall.
Hail was reported from Renton and Des Moines.
Scattered showers were forecasted to continue overnight Thursday in the Seattle area and into the early morning.
Dry weather was forecasted for part of the day Friday, with showers to begin again Friday night.
You can always get the latest forecast for your specific area with the KIRO 7 Weather App. Click here to download the iPhone version of the KIRO 7 Weather App and follow this link to download the KIRO 7 Weather App for Android devices.