Sheila Nielsen was working in her garden Tuesday afternoon when the weather turned windy.
She went inside and saw through a window a tornado tearing apart a canopy over her neighbor’s boat.
The weak tornado touched down just northwest of Roseburg around 3:30 p.m. in the 400 block of Heartwood Lane and damaged the canopy, boat, and a chain link fence at Diane Mahoney’s home in The Meadows development west of Garden Valley Road.
“It obliterated the canopy,” Nielsen said. “It was just whipping it around, tore it to shreds.”
The fence looked like a car had hit it, and the boat had a gash from flying debris, she said.
Records dating back a half century show no other tornado to touch down in Douglas County, National Weather Service forecaster Ken Sargeant said today.
“We have had reports of funnel clouds and water spouts right at the immediate coast, but that far inland near Roseburg, this is the first known case of a tornado in Southwest Oregon,” he said.
The tornado, though weak, was strong enough to whip around five-gallon buckets filled with water, Sargeant said.
“There was quite a bit of damage there,” he said.
The tornado touched down for a very short time. The damage occurred within approximately 100 feet, he said.
The weather service ranked it as an EF-0 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, the weakest rating for a tornado.
“The damage signature of it says that it was a very minor tornado, but a tornado nonetheless,” Sargeant said. An EF-0 storm has winds of between 65 and 85 mph.
The storm also knocked over another neighbor’s basketball hoop, said Nielsen, adding she had never seen anything like it.
“It was crazy,” she said.
• You can reach reporter Betsy Swanback at 541-957-4208 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.