The Tornado of April 5, 1972

The Tornado of April 5, 1972
Washington and Oregon
Kyla Harrison and Riley Cooper
Meteorology 101
August 18, 2010
How it Happened
• On April 5, 1972, an F3
tornado struck southern
Washington at 12:51 PM
• The tornado formed from a
super cell thunderstorm
originating in Portland, OR.
This storm was unnaturally
strong, causing structural
damage, uprooted trees,
and the destruction of the
roof of a warehouse on
Pacific Highway in Tigard.
Winds documented in the
area were between 50-120
MPH during the storm.
• The funnel cloud caused by the
massive thunderstorm first
touched down along the southern
edge of the Columbia River, near
Marine Drive at around 12:50 PM.
• The tornado moved north,
crossed the Columbia River, and
traveled into southeast
• The tornado was mostly obscured
to onlookers due to mud and
• The tornado continued its
rampage for 9 miles into rural
Brush Prairie before dissipating.
• In Oregon, the tornado damaged or destroyed
over 50 boats in the Marine Drive area
• In Washington, the tornado destroyed a
Waremart grocery store, Peter S. Ogden
Elementary School, and a bowling alley.
• Damage in Washington was estimated at
around $6 million
Waremart Grocery Store in rubble
172nd and 4th Plain
Waremart ruins are in upper left corner; Bowling alley
in the lower right
Injury and Mortality
• The tornado injured
around 300 people, 70
of which were school
children in the
demolished elementary
• 6 people died due to
the storm
• The tornado was the
deadliest for 1972
• Students and faculty
from Fort Vancouver
High School rushed to
the collapsed
elementary school,
digging through debris
to rescue survivors.
Why the Tornado is Interesting
• Tornadoes are altogether rare in the Pacific
Northwest, especially F3 variety
• The tornado touched down in a populated
• The tornado is still considered the most
destructive west of the Rockies
“Tornado of April 5, 1972, Vancouver, Washington.” The Columbian. 6 Sep 1972. Waymark.
Groundspeak, Inc.
Rose, Joseph. The Oregonian. “Tornadoes come to the Northwest, but not with Midwest
Frequency.” 10 Jan 2008.
“National Weather Service Forecast Office: Portland, OR: Some of the Area’s Tornadoes.”
National Weather Service.

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