Tornado touches down near Stockton

(Mark Pepper/KXTV)
April 11, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Our April weather produced a rare tornado in Northern California Wednesday. A viewer caught the image of a twister near Stockton and sent it into us via uReport. It happened in San Joaquin County, just west of Stockton.

"I just heard a loud, loud noise. It sounded pretty much like when an Amtrak goes by," said Valentin Gutierrez, a homeowner. When Gutierrez and his cousin looked out the bathroom window, they say they saw the twister. "It got to the shop and lifted it up like in one piece," said Gutierrez. "It's like it got lifted up. It was like a bomb went off and just bursted everywhere and got spit out that way," said Abel Cardoza, Valentin's cousin.

Sheet metal, splintered wood and other debris shot across the field, just missing the house.

"A piece of metal was coming right at me, so I ducked and it hit the ground right in front of the window," Gutierrez.

Valentin's boat and his '71 Caprice were still parked in what's left of the 50x50 foot shop. His pickup truck buried. Two semis peppered by flying debris and a 53-foot trailer flipped on its side.

"It was just a matter of seconds. It just came, hit, and gone," said Gutierrez.

"Look how close the house is. It could have been the house and all of us," said Cardoza.

Valentin's four kids his wife, and parents were safe. Other survivors include a one week old miniature pony and four-horned goat.

"It looked like the wind speeds with this particular tornado range from 94 to 110 miles an hour," said Jim Matthews from the National Weather Service.

Matthews says he measured the winds based on the strength it takes to rip an anchored building off its foundation. He says tornados, in these parts, are rare.

"Most of our thunderstorms occur in the cool season, so the thunder storms aren't as big or strong," said Matthews.

"Yeah, I'm lucky. I had my four children, and my wife, in there. I had everybody hit the ground. We're all just fortunate to be here and tell the story," said Gutierrez.

On a scale of 0 to 5, the National Weather Service says this one was an EF1.

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