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Small tornado touches down in western Kern County

Small tornado forms over rural area in western Kern County

It looked ominous, a tall column of swirling dust that descended from the sky. But the tornado that skittered through Taft, Calif., just before noon Monday passed through town with little or no damage.

The weak tornado touched down near the western Kern County town during a period of showers, according to the National Weather Service in Hanford.

“It looked more impressive than it was,” meteorologist Dan Harty said. “It’s unusual here in California.”

Forecasters say no damage was reported.

The land spout, similar to those that form over the ocean, formed under showery conditions as the storm intersected with the hills and mountains, said Paul Iniguez, science and operation officer for the weather service's Hanford office.

Larger tornadoes like those seen in Kansas and Oklahoma are formed from significant rotating thunderstorms and pick up debris and dust as wind builds. The funnels become narrow as they touch ground, causing major damage in their wake.

Monday’s tornado was brief and isolated, much like a similar event in South Los Angeles in December.

In that incident, the small tornado damaged at least five homes over a 10-block span, traveling from Vermont and Gage avenues to 57th and Figueroa streets.

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