Strong winds tear through Pico Rivera

Was it a tornado? Some residents in the city of Pico Rivera swear that's what they saw. 

Cleanup crews worked through the night after a powerful winter storm ripped through much of the region. 

"Yes, it was strong. It was really strong. I was scared. I kind of like pulled over a little bit and let the wind start blowing," one resident said. "And then I came home and this tree was on the ground."

Even big trash bins were picked up by the strong winds.

"We had to stop because where we were it was dangerous. Scary."

One man said he just missed being hit by a falling tree.


"Who sees a hundred-foot tree fall down in front of you? You know, I was seconds away, probably about maybe I want to say five seconds away from getting hit by that tree."

Another resident said part of his home's roof was torn off and landed on the neighbor's house.

Others say they never felt anything like this - winds so strong and powerful to take down several hundred-year-old trees like they're just twigs.

"The whole tree just was completely blocking the road there. So it was really strong. I've never seen anything like that. Not here. Not here."

The National Weather Service said it detected a line of thunderstorms in the area Wednesday, and it was more likely a downburst, which the agency described as powerful winds that descend from a thunderstorm and spread out once they hit the ground. According to the NWS, the strong winds can easily cause damage similar to that of a EF0 or EF1 tornado and are sometimes misinterpreted as tornadoes.