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Do Tornadoes Occur in Los Angeles County?

Imagined Tornado Over Los Angeles

Imagined giant tornado over Downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Almanac Image.

Although Los Angeles County has never experienced the monsters that terrorize the midwest, tornadoes, albeit smaller ones, are not unknown here. Since 1950, at least 42 tornadoes were reported to have occurred in Los Angeles County. Most were quite small, covering short distances and doing little or no damage. Two, however (in 1966 and 1983), swept across several miles, causing double-digit injuries and significant damage. On March 1, 1983, a twister tore its way north through South Los Angeles, causing 30 injuries and 9 deaths and at least $5 million in damage. It set the record for the most destructive tornado to have occured in Los Angeles County. Tornadoes in Los Angeles County are more likely to appear from November through January. Long Beach, South Los Angeles and South Whittier lead with the most recorded twisters.

NOTE: Although the National Weather Service (NWS) lists 43 tornado events for Los Angeles County since 1950, we show only 42 below. Not shown is a February 19, 1962, tornado event that was recorded as having occurred in Los Angeles County. Geographic coordinates provided for the event, however, placed it in Tulare County, California, and we could not otherwise confirm the event having actually occurred in Los Angeles County. These data are used by the NWS for verification purposes and may not accurately reflect all storm events.


Tornado Events in Los Angeles County, 1950 Through 2018

Date Time Scale* Injuries Est. Losses Starting Lat, Lon Ending Lat, Lon Length (miles) Width (yards) Location
12/20/1952 2:00 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.4, -118.53 0, 0 0.10 10 Santa Clarita
1/18/1955 1:01 PM 1 0 $500 - $5k 34.05, -118.3 0, 0 3.00 23 Los Angeles (Koreatown)
5/9/1956 10:30 AM 0 1 $5k - $50k 34.08, -118.18 0, 0 0.10 17 Los Angeles (El Sereno)
5/14/1962 2:00 PM 1 0 $5k - $50k 33.87, -118.3 0, 0 0.10 10 Gardena
11/9/1964 9:00 AM 1 0 $500 - $5k 33.93, -118.42 0, 0 1.00 10 El Segundo
11/7/1966 3:00 PM 2 10 $500 - $5k 33.9, -118.3 0, 0 0.10 10 Gardena
11/7/1966 3:00 PM 2 10 $50k - $500k 33.85, -118.33 33.9, -118.17 10.30 50 Paramount, East Compton, Compton, Carson, Torrance
4/18/1967 8:00 PM 0 0 $500 - $5k 34.02, -118.5 0, 0 0.30 10 Santa Monica
Date Time Scale* Injuries Est. Losses Starting Lat, Lon Ending Lat, Lon Length (miles) Width (yards) Location
5/8/1977 12:00 PM 1 0 $500k - $5 mil 33.78, -118.2 0, 0 0.10 100 Long Beach
1/4/1978 5:15 PM 0 0 Less than $50 34.12, -117.82 0, 0 0.10 10 San Dimas
2/10/1978 12:30 AM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.93, -118.42 0, 0 1.00 10 El Segundo
1/31/1979 12:45 PM 1 0 $500k - $5 mil 34.17, -118.37 0, 0 0.10 10 Los Angeles (North Hollywood)
1/28/1980 3:15 PM 0 0 $500 - $5k 33.88, -118.3 0, 0 0.40 10 Gardena
3/29/1982 11:30 PM 1 0 $0 or unknown 34.08, -118.1 0, 0 2.00 67 San Gabriel
11/9/1982 2:00 PM 0 0 $500 - $5k 33.97, -118.3 0, 0 0.10 20 Los Angeles (South Los Angeles)
11/9/1982 1:30 PM 2 0 $500k - $5 mil 34.18, -118.45 0, 0 1.00 150 Los Angeles (Van Nuys)
Date Time Scale* Injuries Est. Losses Starting Lat, Lon Ending Lat, Lon Length (miles) Width (yards) Location
11/9/1982 2:00 PM 2 0 $500k - $5 mil 33.78, -118.2 33.88, -118.05 10.00 1,300 Cerritos, Artesia, Lakewood, Long Beach, Signal Hill
11/9/1982 11:30 AM 1 0 $5k - $50k 34.03, -118.68 0, 0 0.20 20 Offshore Malibu
3/1/1983 9:40 AM 2 30, 9 Deaths $5 mil - $50 mil 33.98, -118.37 34.05, -118.35 3.50 100 Los Angeles (South Los Angeles)
3/1/1983 10:15 AM 0 0 $50 - $500 34.13, -118.12 0, 0 0.20 100 San Marino
9/30/1983 9:00 AM 0 0 $50k - $500k 33.92, -118.28 0, 0 0.30 100 Athens
10/1/1983 12:35 AM 1 3 $500 - $5k 33.92, -118.35 0, 0 0.30 100 Hawthorne
5/30/1984 11:15 AM 0 0 Less than $50 34.12, -117.82 0, 0 0.30 70 San Dimas
6/5/1987 5:15 PM 0 0 $5 mil - $50 mil 34.63, -118.1 0, 0 0.20 20 Palmdale
Date Time Scale* Injuries Est. Losses Starting Lat, Lon Ending Lat, Lon Length (miles) Width (yards) Location
1/16/1990 11:20 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.95, -118.05 0, 0 0.20 33 South Whittier
3/19/1991 4:00 AM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.85, -118.13 0, 0 0.50 50 Lakewood
3/20/1992 11:00 PM 1 0 $0 or unknown 34.1, -118.18 0, 0 0.20 20 Los Angeles (Monterey Hills)
1/18/1993 1:45 AM 0 0 $5k - $50k 34.03, -118.3 0, 0 0.70 50 Los Angeles (Historic West Adams)
2/7/1994 7:45 PM 0 0 $5k - $50k 34.25, -118.35 0, 0 0.10 10 Los Angeles (Shadow Hills)
6/16/1995 2:55 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.93, -118.02 0, 0 0.10 10 South Whittier
7/21/1997 5:55 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.58, -118.12 34.58, -118.12 0.10 10 Palmdale
1/9/1998 4:00 PM 1 1 $0 or unknown 33.78, -118.17 33.78, -118.17 1.50 30 Long Beach
Date Time Scale* Injuries Est. Losses Starting Lat, Lon Ending Lat, Lon Length (miles) Width (yards) Location
4/1/1999 4:00 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.25, -118.6 34.25, -118.6 0.10 0 Long Beach
2/16/2000 6:30 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.08, -117.88 34.08, -117.88 0.50 10 Covina
8/28/2000 3:45 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.55, -117.98 34.55, -117.98 0.10 0 Littlerock
12/21/2001 2:40 AM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.02, -117.87 34.02, -117.87 0.10 10 Walnut
12/29/2004 12:40 AM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.78, -118.17 33.78, -118.17 1.00 5 Long Beach
12/29/2004 2:15 AM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.97, -118.3 33.97, -118.3 0.50 5 Los Angeles (South Los Angeles)
12/29/2004 2:15 AM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.95, -118.03 33.95, -118.03 0.50 5 South Whittier
8/15/2005 7:53 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.72, -117.98 34.72, -117.98 0.10 33 NE of Lancaster
Date Time Scale* Injuries Est. Losses Starting Lat, Lon Ending Lat, Lon Length (miles) Width (yards) Location
9/1/2007 5:20 PM 0 0 $0 or unknown 34.65, -118.12 34.65, -118.12 0.05 10 Lancaster
12/12/2014 11:20 AM 0 0 $0 or unknown 33.9823, -118.291 33.9904, -118.283 0.73 10 Los Angeles (South Los Angeles)

* F-scale (Fujita scale) used prior to Feb. 1, 2007. EF-scale (Enhanced Fujita scale) used since Feb. 1, 2007.
† Monetary loss estimates are highly suspect and should be used with caution.

F Scale (Prior to Feb. 1, 2007)
0 - 40-72 mph, Weak, Light damage
1 - 73-112 mph, Weak, Moderate damage
2 - 113-157 mph, Strong, Significant damage

EF Scale (After Jan. 31, 2007)
0 - 65-85 mph, Light damage
1 - 86-110 mph, Moderate damage
2 - 111-135 mph, Considerable damage

Source: Storm Prediction Center, NOAA/National Weather Service


Also see: "Can a Volcanic Eruption Occur in Los Angeles?"
and "Will Los Angeles Eventually Fall Into the Ocean?"


L.A. Video

L.A. Videos
The 1983 Tornado in Los Angeles

1983 Tornado in Los Angeles