CHICO, Calif. (CBS13) – A series of twisters largely avoided populated areas near Chico on Wednesday afternoon, but a number of farmers are dealing with a serious economic blow from the unexpected weather phenomenon.
The National Weather Service estimates at least five tornadoes touched down across Butte County and Glenn County, with reports of sighting flowing in from residents and law enforcement officers near Hamilton City, Durham, Ord Bend and Paradise between 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The severe storm cell passed just a few miles south of Chico and the debris paths mostly tracked through agricultural land, dumping hail nearly an inch thick in places and destroying crops with high winds.
Gary and Sherry Nordstrom said they took cover in their home when the wind picked up and began tossing trees around “like popsicle sticks,” turning toward their structure and causing some damage to buildings on their property.
“Then I saw a piece of sheet metal fly by,” Sherry said.
Another twister touched down on Sean Martinez’s almond farm, uprooting nearly 25,000 almond trees, about 25 percent of his crop.
“It’s going to be a lot, a lot of work to clean up,” Martinez said. “It’s shocking. It hasn’t set in yet.”
Martinez said the dollar amount of the loss will likely reach millions of dollars. It will take at least five or six years for any newly planted trees to turn profitable.
Despite some of the dramatic video and pictures residents snapped during the event, there have been no reports of serious injuries from the tornadoes.