Blue skies hung over the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center in Orick at about 9:20 a.m. Tuesday when a water spout descended from a bank of thunderclouds to the north.
"It only lasted for maybe five or 10 minutes," said Carey Wells, a park guide with Redwood National Park. "It wasn't very long and it dissipated just like a real tornado would do. It was cool to watch it on the water. It got really big."
After the center was forced to close at about 2:30 p.m. due to a weather-related power outage on Monday, the visitor center staff was enjoying a brief respite from the rain when the water spout touched down, Wells said. She added that even though she has lived in tornado country in the past, this was the first time she saw a funnel cloud.
"Our guess was it was probably a good seven-plus miles out there," Wells said, adding that the water spout was just past Redding Rock. "It probably wouldn't have lasted long enough to make it in here."
An upper level trough coming down out of the Gulf of Alaska brought rain, hail and thunderstorms to the North Coast on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The weather is expected to be dryer today, but more rain could visit the area Friday and Saturday, said National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Aylward. Another system is expected to move in early next week, he said.
Aylward said the storm that passed through over the last three days was more typical of early spring.
"The storm dropped down from the Gulf of Alaska and just sat over the Pacific Northwest at the right trajectory to keep bringing showers into our area," he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the storm had brought 2 inches of rain to Crescent City in the last 72 hours, Aylward said.
"Crescent City is running two inches above normal for the month," he said.
On Tuesday, after being battered by rain and hail that was still on the ground at 1 p.m., Crescent City experienced a lull in the storm. But it wasn't long before more rain and hail fell from the sky. Although hail blanketed Crescent City on Monday night and Tuesday morning, there were no weather-related collisions on local roads, California Highway Patrol Officer Brandy Gonzalez said Tuesday.
On Wednesday, CHP officers responded to a non-injury accident on U.S. Highway 101 near Wilson Creek. According to Officer Rick Thoma, the motorist had spun out and went off the road. Thoma couldn't say if weather was a factor, but said the road was wet when officers responded.
Elsewhere in California this week, storms spawned five tornadoes that snapped trees and toppled fences, according to the Associated Press. In Yuba City, a tornado with peak gusts of up to 100 mph tore up a car port, tossed a powerboat into a neighboring field and threw a 12 foot-by-14 foot garage door onto the roof of a feed store.
For more weather information, visitor the National Weather Service's website at weather.gov/eureka.
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org.