Severe weather in Florida brought chaos and destruction as at least one tornado ravaged homes, businesses, and cars on both coasts of the state.
Clearwater Beach Tornado
In Clearwater Beach, a likely tornado hit early Thursday morning, damaging at least two homes. While no injuries were reported, pictures from the scene reveal streets littered with debris, including a home’s gutter impaling a car’s windshield.
A 90-year-old woman who was asleep in her home when the storm struck remained uninjured. The tornado brought down a wall and collapsed the roof on her, causing her to wake up to the sound of breaking glass. She sought shelter under her covers until the storm subsided.
Damage in Dunedin
Just north of Clearwater Beach, in Dunedin, reports of damage, including downed power lines, surfaced. Videos shared on social media depicted buildings with missing walls and roofs, along with shattered windows at various businesses.
The National Weather Service will assess the destruction to verify if it resulted from a tornado and determine its strength.
Crystal River Tornado
Approximately 65 miles north of Clearwater Beach, another possible tornado struck Crystal River. The reported tornado damaged and destroyed numerous businesses and homes throughout the city. Mayor Joe Meek described a “considerable amount of damage” but was relieved to report no major injuries or fatalities.
In the aftermath, many roads initially closed due to downed power lines, fallen trees, and debris have since reopened. School across Citrus County was canceled for the day because of the damage.
Tornado in Palm Coast
The severe storms continued their eastward path, affecting northeast Florida. In Palm Coast, an EF2 tornado with winds of 115 mph carved a one-mile path of destruction. The storm caused significant structural damage in Palm Coast’s Indian Trails neighborhood, although there were no reported injuries.
Social media posts by the Palm Coast government displayed an overturned car, damaged roofs, and insulation strewn across a yard.
The National Weather Service in Jacksonville provided updates on these incidents.
Tornado Watch and Aftermath
Millions of Floridians were placed under a tornado watch during the peak of the tornado threat on Thursday. Strong winds, with gusts of 30-40 mph, and heavy rain were expected across northern parts of the state.
As the storm system moved towards the Atlantic waters during the early afternoon, it left behind rainfall and thunderstorms through most of Thursday, gradually winding down towards the evening.
Despite the destruction and chaos, the silver lining was the absence of major injuries or casualties, offering some relief amid the devastating weather conditions.