Los Angeles

‘Gustnado' Damages Roofs in Vernon: Meteorologists

A furniture manufacturing business was red tagged after strong winds that meteorologists dubbed a "gustnado" blasted out windows and ripped a portion of a roof off the South Los Angeles building.

Crews at Arely's Furniture, a family-owned furniture manufacturing company in Vernon, scrambled Wednesday morning to put tarp over the building as more rain fueled by El Niño brought more rain and wind and was expected to bring more through the week.

National Weather Service meteorologists said Wednesday afternoon that the "wind storm" Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. was a "down burst" or "gusty winds associated with a gust front" and not a tornado as was reported by residents.

The winds can reach speeds up to 80 mph and typically extend up to 300 feet above ground with no apparent connection to clouds above, forecasters said.

Francisco Ramirez captured the wind on cellphone video.

"I had no idea what to think. I was just scared," he said.

Areli, Ramirez's sister, was inside the building when the winds came barreling by.

"We could kind of hear a rumble and I kept thinking it was an earthquake," Areli said.

Fred MacFarlane, a Vernon city spokesman, thinks it was a tornado that damaged the roofs and sent debris flying.

"I am not a meteorologist but that is what it seems caused all this damage," MacFarlane said.

He said in a statement that cars were damaged from flying debris, and the "rare tornado activity" downed power lines. 

"Everything was just up in the air," Ramirez said.

The family was shocked by the strong gust.

"It’s kind a crazy. You always hear that happening in Texas, never here," Areli said.

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