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caption: An emergency alert for potential tornados was sent to residents across North Kitsap County Nov. 11, 2021.
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An emergency alert for potential tornados was sent to residents across North Kitsap County Nov. 11, 2021.
Credit: Megan Farmer / KUOW

Tornado warning startles Kitsap County as severe weather strikes western Washington

Residents across North Kitsap County were startled Tuesday around noon as tornado alerts were sent to smartphones across the region.

Locals were advised to shelter in the lowest part of the building they were in.

The National Weather Service said areas spanning Silverdale, Kingston, and North Bainbridge Island were at risk. By 12:26 p.m., the weather service announced: "All the tornado warnings are cancelled. There is still the threat of severe weather in the area today so stay alert!"

Some people in Seattle reported receiving the tornado alert on their phones. The weather service quickly clarified that there was no concern for Seattle.

A particularly active thunderstorm moved across the Silverdale area Tuesday morning, prompting the tornado threat. Officials warned of dangerous, flying debris that could injure people and damage roofs, windows, and vehicles.

The last time a major tornado struck Kitsap was in 2018 when an EF2 (111-135 mph) developed over Port Orchard. In 2017, an EF0 (65-85 mph) tornado hit Monroe in Snohomish County.

Tuesday's tornado scare comes days after a waterspout moved onto land and turned into a tornado on Saturday, Nov. 6 near Vancouver B.C. Also, a tornado formed in Battle Ground, Wash. in September.

Tornadoes aren't uncommon in Washington state. Many happen out of view. The state's record of 14 recorded tornadoes in a year was set in 1997. Washington's most deadly tornado struck in April 1972 when an EF3 hit Vancouver, killing six people and injuring 300.

Tuesday weather

On the water Tuesday, a Special Marine Warning for Puget Sound and Hood Canal was in place until 12:45 p.m., due to waterspouts and wind gusts up to 40 knots. The weather impacted ferries, which have been operating under elevated safety protocols. Travelers may run into delays on the Edmonds and Kingston routes, according to ferry officials.

Western Washington remains under a wind advisory until 4 p.m. Tuesday. Specifically, southwest winds between 25-35 mph, with gusts up to 45 mph, are expected from Tacoma through Everett.

The early morning storm left tens of thousands around western Washington without power.

The heavy wind knocked a tree into powerlines in Seattle's Wedgwood neighborhood and set a nearby home on fire.