Two rare tornadoes touch down in Central California as storms pummel state

A tornado near Madera, Calf., on March 1, 2024.
Screenshot of a tornado captured on video by Gillian Salgado near Madera, Calif., on Friday.
(Courtesy of Gillian Salgado)

A tornado touched down in Kings County on Saturday afternoon — the second tornado in two days to hit Central California.

The tornado touched down in the south end of Corcoran around 4:37 p.m., said meteorologist Carlos Molina with the National Weather Service’s Hanford office. The tornado moved eastward and than dissipated by the time it reached State Route 99, he said.

The tornado comes less than a day after a funnel cloud briefly touched down in Madera County, about 30 minutes north of Fresno. ABC7 reported that the tornado touched down near an elementary school, forcing students to shelter in the cafeteria.


“This is the first time I’ve ever actually observed two tornadoes back to back,” said Molina, noting that moisture in the area from a winter storm had brought ideal conditions for such an event.

“Usually for Central California, we normally would get one, possibly two, tornadoes across our area between March and April,” he said.

The back-to-back tornadoes come less than a month after two tornadoes touched down within a minute of each other along San Luis Obispo County’s coast.

Officials said at the time that they were the first tornadoes to hit San Luis Obispo County since 2004 and the strongest since before 1950, with winds of 95 mph.

Elsewhere in the state, a blizzard pounded the Sierra Nevada on Saturday with gusts of up to 190 mph and almost 2 feet of snow in some places. A 75-mile stretch of Interstate 80 was shut down, and ski resorts were forced to close amid the dangerous conditions.


The California snowstorm cut off Mammoth Mountain from SoCal again Sunday and paralyzed Interstate 80. A blizzard warning was extended for Mammoth until Sunday night and the Tahoe area through Monday morning.

March 3, 2024