‘Catastrophic damage:’ Rare tornado damages homes in Kitsap County

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- The National Weather Service is investigating a tornado that caused "catastrophic damage" to some Kitsap County homes as severe weather moved through the area.

Based on radar imagery and video evidence, a tornado touched down south of Port Orchard shortly before 2 p.m., said Brent Bower, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

A 'catastrophic event'

The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office called the damage "catastrophic," saying it was contained to neighborhoods east and south of a Walmart in Port Orchard. Power lines were down and roads were closed in the area, the sheriff's office said.

About 50 buildings, many of them homes, were damaged, Deputy Scott Wilson tells Q13 News.

"Do not attempt to drive in the areas of Lund, Bethel, Salmonberry, Harris and Chase. Those roads are closed," the sheriff's office tweeted.

"Until we conduct a tornado survey tomorrow morning, we can not speculate on the strength of the tornado," NWS Seattle tweeted.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Chelsea Hodgson shared aerial images of the damage. Homes had roofs damaged or even ripped off.

Matthew Hargis shared the above video with Q13 News -- showing what appears to be a tornado swirling near several Kitsap County homes and businesses.

The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office says it is investigating reports of houses being hit by trees and other property damage.  NWS was planning to send a crew to survey the area Wednesday morning.

Some evacuated after storm

Trooper Hodgson says no injuries have been reported so far, but fire crews were going door-to-door to check on those affected.

According to Bob Caulkins with Kitsap County Emergency Management, mandatory evacuations were only in place for residents within the following boundaries: Lund to Salmonberry and Tiburon to Harris.

The American Red Cross opened an evacuation center for those impacted by the tornado. The center opened at 4 p.m. at the St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church, 1150 Mitchell Ave SE.

Q13 News Meteorologist Walter Kelley captured a radar image at the time when the tornado was reported.

Tornadoes are rare in Washington

The state averages 2.5 tornadoes a year, but December tornadoes are extremely rare, the weather service said on Twitter.

Most tornadoes in Washington are rated EF-0s with minor damage, Bower said.

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