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msnbc.com staff reports: A rare tornado blew roofs off homes and left other damage in its path through the Hawaiian communities of Lanikai and Enchanted Lake on Oahu, weather officials confirmed Friday.
A National Weather Service team surveying damage and talking to witnesses determined a waterspout came ashore and was reclassified as a tornado in Lanikai about 7:30 a.m. The 20-yard-wide tornado traveled about 1.5 miles in 15 minutes to Enchanted Lake with wind speeds reaching 60 to 70 mph before dissipating, officials said.
Hawaii, known for its famous sunshine, has been hit with unusually harsh weather for about a week.
Usually when you think of supercells you think of the Great Plains of the United States, where cold / dry Canadian air meets with warm / moist air off the Gulf of Mexico. This setup produces supercells; with violent tornadoes, if ingredients are right.
But Oahu is experiencing a supercell with the look of one that would travel Tornado Alley. TheWeatherSpace.com Senior Meteorologist Kevin Martin weighs in.
"This is very rare for Hawaii to have this type of supercell," said Martin. "This has a classic hook echo and even rotation with a possible tornado touchdown with it. The ingredients came together perfectly as an upper level low to the west of the Islands provided the cold mid-level atmosphere over the tropical warm low level layer. This combined with strong upper level divergence to set thunderstorms off. A strong mid-level jet was not present, but some low level jet dynamics coming into surface low to the south of Hawaii did and created the low level rotation."