PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF-2 tornado touched down near Port Orchard Tuesday afternoon, damaging 400-plus homes.
The NWS' preliminary investigation reveals that the tornado lasted about five minutes, from 1:50 p.m. to 1:55 p.m., with wind speeds from 120-130 mph.
The tornado covered a stretch of 1.4 miles that was 250-300 yards wide.
It started on Geiger Road about two miles south of Port Orchard and ended on SE Kerri Court about two miles southeast of Port Orchard in Kitsap County.
The Kitsap County Sheriff's office called the damage "catastrophic." Deputy Scott Wilson said the twister caused "a lot of chaos."
"It's traumatic, especially as we approach the Christmas season," Wilson said.
Image courtesy NWS
This is the strongest tornado in Washington state since 1986, and the last time an EF-2 or stronger hit in December was in 1969. The Kitsap County Sheriff's office called the damage "catastrophic."
Washington state averages 2.5 tornadoes a year, but December tornadoes average a minute fraction, the Weather Service said. Most tornadoes in Washington are rated EF-0s that cause minor damage, Weather Service hydrologist Brent Bower said.
No serious injuries were reported. Power had been restored by Wednesday to much of the affected area with the exception of the most severely damaged homes, the sheriff's office said. Some roads remained closed.