First tornado on record in SW Oregon dampens Christmas spirit

The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that an event that caused some minor damage near Roseburg, Oregon, on June 18 was, in fact, a weak tornado.

The twister was given a rating of EF0 -- the weakest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, with estimated winds of 65-85 mph and a track of just 100 yards.

But what makes the tornado interesting is that it's the first recorded tornado in Douglas County history, based on the Storm Prediction Center's database going back to 1950.

(Actually, you can expand that to the first tornado reported across any of the interior of Southwestern Oregon -- just two weak tornadoes along the coast since 1950.)

The tornado was not spawned from a traditional severe thunderstorm -- in fact, the NWS reported the closest thunderstorm to the funnel was 13 miles east. But they noted high temperatures were 10 degrees below normal, "and it is likely that this was a cold air funnel that briefly touched down as a tornado."

Cold air funnels are formed in non-severe storms and are fairly common along the West Coast. Most of the time they're harmless funnel clouds but on rare occasion, they reach the ground to make for a weak tornado, as was likely the case in this event.

Here is the National Weather Service summary of the damage:

"A neighbor witnessed the tornado for about 1 minute. She heard a very loud noise and looked out the window where she saw 'a funnel cloud on the ground' whipping around very fast and blowing apart a carport canopy sheltering a boat. The carport canopy was held down by four-gallon sized buckets filled with water. These buckets went flying into the boat and fence. The boat received a gash, and the metal pipe fence rail was broken. A satellite dish on the roof was also turned 90 degrees. The tornado then moved into an empty field and dissipated."

The storm survey team was happy to report there was no damage to the house, save for one minor issue:

"The Christmas lights were pulled down."