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Tornado strikes California town, damages homes

Tornado strikes California town, damages homes
Posted at 6:05 AM, Nov 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-16 09:05:15-05

DENAIR, Calif. (AP) — A rare tornado struck a Central California town, tearing roofing and walls, knocking down trees and power lines and damaging gas lines.

The National Weather Service said video and witness reports confirm a tornado touched down in Denair, about 13 miles southeast of Modesto, shortly before 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Meteorologists planned to survey the scene and rate the level of damage on Monday.

The Modesto Bee said the twister swept along nearly a mile of Zeering Road, toppling trees and fences, breaking windows and ripping off part of a church roof.

There were no reports of injuries.

Sabina Woodard said she took refuge with her husband, Zane, under the hospital bed in their home as furnishings, including their television set, flew about.

"What I thought was a bunch of birds was a bunch of debris" being carried by the funnel cloud heading their way, she told the Bee.

"It looked like a remake of that Alfred Hitchcock movie 'The Birds.'"

The tornado came as another winter-like storm originating from the Gulf of Alaska swept across California. Hail and thunderstorms were reported in parts of Northern California and in the Sierra Nevada foothills; rain and strong wind hit parts of the San Francisco Bay area.

Forecasters said up to 8 inches of snow could fall at the 5000 feet level, with possibly a foot at the highest peaks.

The weather service warned of strong winds, possibly gusting up to 70 mph, throughout Southern California.