Twisters in California? What you need to Know


As winter storms continue throughout California, there is a risk for high winds and even tornados throughout the Northern Central Valley.

Although tornados are not common in California, high wind and saturated ground can be a dangerous combination that can lead to property damage or Injury. During this coming round of storms, high winds may be accompanied by hail, heavy rain, lighting and thunderstorms.

Be aware during High Wind

High winds can set in motion a series of events that lead to disasters. High winds in combination with saturated soil from recent winter storms can weaken trees, making them easier to uproot and potentially topple entire trees.

Power outages: High winds can cause damage to utility and power lines, leading to widespread power outages. Cal OES encourages Californians to maintain a safe distance if they encounter a downed powerline and quickly report any tree-related issues near power lines to their power utility company.

Structural damage:  High winds can cause roof damage, window damage and can even lead to injuries and property damage.

Debris Propagation: Outdoor furniture, loose debris and other objects left outdoors during a high wind event can pose a threat to both people and property. Store loose object only when the weather is safe to go outside and be aware of your surroundings during a high wind event.

During a high wind event:

  • Sign up for your county emergency alert system to stay informed about any updates during a winter storm.
  • Never go near downed powerlines and avoid anything that may be touching a downed powerline
  • Report downed powerlines to your power utility company
  • Stay clear of roadways and avoid unnecessary travel
  • Use handrails when available on outdoor walkways
  • Avoid elevated such as roofs or ladders
  • Watch for flying debris when going outside. Tree limbs may become loose during strong winds.

What is the Difference between a Funnel Cloud and a Tornado:  High winds and winter storms can bring intense weather to California. Funnel clouds and tornados can look similar to each other but it’s important to know the differences between the two weather events.

Funnel Cloud

  • Rotating funnel-shaped cloud extending from the bottom of a cloud.
  • Does not make contact with the ground or cause damage.


  • A violently rotating column of air usually attached to the base of a thunderstorm.
  • Usually, debris is visible, and the rotating column must make contact with the ground.