SEATTLE – An early winter storm dumped a record amount of rain in the Pacific Northwest, knocked out power to thousands and likely churned up a rare tornado Monday that ripped a hole in the roof on an industrial plant near Seattle.
The most dramatic damage was at an industrial park in Frederickson, south of Tacoma. As thunder and lightning flashed, the wind uprooted trees and tore a jagged hole in the roof of the Northwest Door manufacturing plant.
"It looked from the inside like a wave going along. You could actually see the roof flexing," Northwest Door President Jeff Hohman said.
Witnesses reported seeing a tornado in the area at the time, and the Weather Service sent a team to Frederickson to investigate.
Washington may get a tornado or two every year, but they are usually small. One of the largest was an F3 in 1972 in Vancouver that killed six people.
No one was injured in Monday. About 100 employees evacuated and the business closed while inspectors assess a 40-by-40-foot hole in the roof.
The wind also caused damage at a nearby Boeing plant, mostly in the parking lot, spokesman Doug Alder said. The storm blew out the windows of about two dozen cars and knocked down fences, power lines and trees. Some tiles were blown off the Boeing roof. Nobody was injured and there wasn't any damage to airplane parts or equipment.
Several thousand employees work at the Frederickson site, which makes parts and sections for just about every Boeing airplane, including the vertical tails for the 777 and 787.
Parts of the Northwest got more rain in a day or two over the weekend than typically falls in the entire month.
"We basically had conditions well off shore that were very reminiscent of late fall-early winter," said Dana Felton, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Seattle.
With Mondays' precipitation still to be added, it's been the wettest September on record in Olympia and the second-wettest in Seattle.
Nearly 8 inches fell in Olympia, topping a 1978 record and swamping the usual 1.7 inches that fall in that time, the National Weather Service said. Sea-Tac Airport's September total of 5.6 inches came second to a 1978 record, while downtown Portland saw 6.2 inches — the most since record-keeping began in 1872.
Puget Sound Energy had about 12,000 customers out of service late Sunday, the Bellevue-based utility reported. Seattle City Light reported it had about 3,200 customers out of service overnight. Portland General Electric had more than 90,000 customers out of power since the storm began.
Tim Fought in Portland contributed to this report.