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The twister 'briefly' reached ground level at Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm on Sunday evening.

COURTESY PHOTO: JIM KESSINGER - An aerial photo taken by a drone shows damage after a tornado touched down at Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm, northwest of Portland, on Sunday, Sept. 8.The National Weather Service office in Portland has confirmed that a tornado touched down at a farm near Cornelius Pass on Sunday evening, Sept. 8.

The tornado reportedly struck Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm at 11435 N.W. Old Cornelius Pass Road, just across the Multnomah County side of the county line with Washington County. The farm is less than a mile west of Skyline Elementary School.

The NWS issued a tornado warning for an area spanning the Tualatin Mountains north of Hillsboro on Sunday evening.

Dark storm clouds and rotation characteristic of a tornado could be observed in the area from as far away as Ron Tonkin Field in Hillsboro, where the Hillsboro Hops were hosting the Tri-City Dust Devils in a minor league baseball playoff series.

Jon Bonk, a meteorologist at the NWS Portland office, said a survey team was sent to assess the storm damage at Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm.

"They confirmed that it briefly touched down," Bonk said.



The business reported on Facebook Sunday night that it had been hit by a tornado.

Jim Kessinger, who owns and operates the farm with his wife, Peggy, said the windstorm caused some property damage, but no one was hurt.

"It blew out my solar panel and knocked down our corn maze," Kessinger said, adding that the tornado also took out a tent he had set up and damaged a barn door. "It did a good little amount of damage."

He estimates the damage in total at about $10,000.

The tornado was reported at about 6:45 p.m. Sunday.

Kessinger grew up in Kansas, he said, so he's familiar with tornadoes and the devastation they can cause.

"I could see it forming, the clouds forming behind my barn, and it kept getting closer and closer," Kessinger recalled.

The tornado was the weakest possible on the Enhanced Fujita scale used by meteorologists, an EF-0.

Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Farm is one of several businesses of its type in the region that open for the fall season. It offers scenic hayrides, a barrel train, pumpkin bowling and other family-friendly activities, along with the corn maze that was damaged by Sunday's tornado.

It's too late to replant the corn maze, Kessinger said, but he believes the destroyed sections can be mowed over and the rest of the maze rearranged.

"It's still a usable maze — it's just going to be smaller," Kessinger said.

He added, "The show must go on. We'll be open on September 28th."

A funnel cloud was also reported in Minnehaha, Washington, on Sunday night as part of the same storm system, which battered the region with heavy rain and, in some places, hail.

Tornadoes are uncommon in the Pacific Northwest, but they're not unheard of, especially in the fall.

Another EF-0 tornado caused thousands of dollars of damage to a Forest Grove-area nursery last October.COURTESY PHOTO: JIM KESSINGER - An aerial photo shows solar panels strewn about what remains of the corn maze at Plumper Pumpkin Patch & Tree Farm after a tornado hit the business near Cornelius Pass on Sunday, Sept. 8.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with quotes and photos from the business-owner, as well as a Tweet displaying a survey map of the damage.

By Mark Miller
Washington County Editor
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