Multiple tornadoes touched down late Thursday afternoon in East Idaho, but fortunately it does not appear that the twisters injured any people or damaged any structures.
The National Weather Service said at least four tornadoes touched down over a large expanse of mostly unpopulated terrain from the Idaho National Laboratory and Atomic City areas stretching northeast to the Mud Lake area.
The weather service said the first tornado hit shortly before 4 p.m. and at least three others occurred during the next 90 minutes.
Having even a single tornado touching down in East Idaho is a rare occurrence so the fact at least four touched down late Thursday afternoon is incredibly rare, the weather service said.
The meteorologists at the weather service’s office at Pocatello Regional Airport said the severe thunderstorm that created the tornadoes was the most spectacular they’ve ever seen, especially considering the length of time that the powerful storm was still spawning twisters.
Throughout Thursday afternoon, the weather service issued numerous tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings and special weather alerts for East Idaho regarding the plethora of thunderstorms that hit the region.
The only twisters that have been confirmed are the ones that touched down from the INL and Atomic City areas stretching to the Mud Lake area.
Although several thunderstorms rampaged through the region on Thursday afternoon, the weather service said it received no reports of anyone being injured and the only damage reports were about trees suffering lightning and wind damage in the Rexburg and St. Anthony areas.
This could be considered miraculous considering the many thunderstorms that hit throughout East Idaho on Thursday afternoon, pounding the region with 60 mph winds, large hail and deadly lightning.
Thursday afternoon started with the weather service issuing a severe thunderstorm watch for all of East Idaho, including high population areas such as Pocatello, Chubbuck, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Ammon and Rexburg.
The watch was foreboding considering the thunderstorms that soon followed.
Equally well-timed was the weather service warning issued Tuesday that severe thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes were a possibility for both Wednesday and Thursday in East Idaho.
Wednesday saw several thunderstorms hit the region but no tornadoes.
That changed on Thursday afternoon when the weather service issued tornado warnings for numerous East Idaho counties, ordering residents to “take shelter now.” The weather service told people to “move to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If you are outdoors, in a mobile home or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.”
The tornado warnings stated that “flying debris will be dangerous to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be damaged or destroyed. Damage to roofs, windows and vehicles will occur. Tree damage is likely.”
Fortunately, the twisters that did touch down appear to have steered clear of people and buildings.
The weather service said some thunderstorms could roll through East Idaho again on Friday but they should not be nearly as severe as Thursday’s weather.