Small tornado hits Gig Harbor; wind knocks out power

A Gig Harbor-area tornado reportedly caused minor damage Sunday as wind cut power to the region, the National Weather Service said.

No injuries were reported, said meteorologist Josh Smith of the Weather Service’s Seattle office.

Monica Cosmos was watching the Seattle Seahawks game with her family at a friend’s waterfront house near Kopachuck Drive Northwest and Ray Nash Drive Northwest, when she said the dog barked, wind picked up, and they heard branches breaking.

“Off the water, it was as if a layer of mist is just cutting over the water, and it white caps instantly,” she said. “One minute we’re watching the game, and next we’re literally gathering the kids and running toward a glassless area.”

A branch smashed a window of her car, debris knocked some shingles off their friends’ house, and they found tree limbs sticking straight up in the yard, she said.

The storm was first reported at 2:25 p.m., heading east along state Route 16 between Rosedale Street and Burnham Drive Northwest. A few minutes later, another report or two came in that the tornado was along North Harborview Drive, between Peacock Hill Avenue and Burnham Drive.

Loose objects were thrown around, some windows were broken, and some unmanned kayaks were tossed around in the water before the tornado ended, according to the reports.

“There was a small storm cell overhead at the time, and it had a little bit of rotating in it, and it dropped down as a tornado,” Smith said. “It was a pretty weak cell, actually.”

It wasn’t clear whether the tornado was responsible for four Peninsula Light Co. power poles that went down in the area about 2:20 p.m., near Rosedale Street and 78th Avenue Northwest.

“It takes a lot to break some poles out there,” spokesman Jonathan White said. “It certainly was the wind, that’s for sure.”

The downed poles cut power for roughly 770 people during the Seattle Seahawks NFC Championship Game, in addition to about 200 other customers who were already without power. White said crews got power restored to most of those customers “so they could at least see the end of the game,” to watch the Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers in overtime.

Peninsula Light had about 6,000 people in the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula areas without power at the height of the outage early Sunday, and White said a couple of hundred were left about 5 p.m. He expected all power to be back by midnight.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord reported wind speeds up to 28 mph early Sunday, and a gust of 40 mph about 1:30 a.m.