The National Weather Service office in Seattle confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a weak tornado touched down briefly just south of Ethel early Monday evening.

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The National Weather Service office in Seattle confirmed Wednesday afternoon that a weak tornado touched down briefly just south of Ethel early Monday evening.

Forecaster Danny Mercer said a team went down from the agency’s Seattle office Wednesday to confirm two eyewitness reports of a tornado that had occurred around 6:15 p.m. Monday afternoon. According to the team’s report, it was determined that a small tornado 110 yards in length and five yards wide damaged branches on trees and brush on the property of Cliff and Christie Clark in the 800 block of Spencer Road.

“We saw the wind pick up all of a sudden and looked out our patio door, and next thing you know there’s a funnel going over the deck,” Cliff Clark said. “I grew up in Indiana, so this is relatively minor, but it was pretty fun to watch.”

Clark said the funnel “scooted across the yard” and damaged tree limbs, leaving debris in his yard he hasn’t had a chance to clean up yet. He’s been busy telling friends and family about the storm instead.

“I wasn’t freaked out, but I had to let someone know about it anyway,” Clark said. “I wouldn’t have told anyone if nothing touched the ground.”

The National Weather Service can generally determine the path of a tornado and its wind speeds by using the Enhanced Fujita scale, a system that uses the degree of damage and wind speed estimates as a determining factor in deciding how strong a tornado is. Forecasters haven’t pinpointed exactly what caused the brief twister to touch down, but said weather conditions were ripe for a severe weather event.

“There wasn’t any significant event that caused the tornado, but there were some unstable conditions generated by the storm that just basically sat down over the area,” Mercer said.

Mercer said Washington state sees “occasionally one or two very small” tornadoes per year, but this isn’t the first time south Lewis County has seen a tornado. On Dec. 13, 1996, a tornado-like storm uprooted trees and lifted roofs from barns along a two-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 12 between Ethel and Salkum. The National Weather Service did not identify that storm as a tornado, but rather as a “gustnado,” which forms at ground level.

The most destructive tornado in Washington history was an F-3 twister that hit the city of Vancouver on April 5, 1972. The outbreak associated with that system killed six people, injured 300 and caused $50 million in damage, according to the National Weather Service.