Eastern WA kicks off spring with a tornado, earthquake and hail

Tornado Eq Hail

Days after the start of spring, there was a tornado, an earthquake and some intense hail in eastern Washington — all within 24 hours.

Just after 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the National Weather Service’s Pendleton office started getting reports of what appeared to be a tornado or funnel cloud just north of Richland, Washington.

After analyzing citizens’ footage of the tornado and other data based on precipitation and light thunderstorms in the region, weather experts confirmed that a landspout tornado touched down right outside of town.

A landspout tornado is a weaker type of tornado unlike the destructive ones often seen in the Midwest.

NWS meteorologist Walt Clark said the difference is that landspout tornadoes are not associated with a rapidly rotating thunderstorm like the bigger ones are.

Clark said the strength of the week’s tornado near the Tri-Cities has yet to be determined, and the NWS Pendleton office is asking residents to submit videos or report any signs of damage in order to get a final calculation. So far, his office has received no reports of damage.

Weather experts believe a small tornado touched down outside Richland, Washington on Tuesday. This video was taken from a parking lot off Columbia Center Boulevard in Kennewick. 📱: Chamise Hartman

Posted by KAPP-KVEW Local News on Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Then at 5:52 p.m., less than three hours later, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck central Idaho northwest of Boise.

The big tremor led to reports of shaking in Spokane, Yakima, Tri-Cities, Ellensburg and even as far as Salt Lake City, Utah and Helena, Montana.

“We are in Kennewick. We felt it here. Windows rattled a bit, chandelier swayed,” social media user Debra Crosby commented.

“Our 3 pendant lights were swaying in Yakima. I thought my husband had knocked our 6 month olds head on the light when he put her in her seat… Until I noticed all 3 were swaying,” another social media user, Brianna Reames, said.

“Big time in Spokane,” Jason McSteen commented.

Idaho had reports of an avalanche and rockslides, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

Fast-forward to Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after the tornado hit, people in Pasco started posting photos and videos of heavy hail.

According to the NWS in Pendleton, staff at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco reported seeing quarter-inch hail.

Pasco resident Gustuvo Vargos sent a video to KAPP-KVEW of hail coming down hard in his front yard.

This isn't an April Fools joke…Pasco just got hit with some heavy hail! Did anyone else see it? Thanks for the video, Gustavo Vargas!

Posted by KAPP-KVEW Local News on Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Weather experts also received a report of two inches of accumulated, quarter-inch hail in Goldendale off Highway 97 southwest of Toppenish.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.