While most of South Florida was spared from Sunday’s worst weather, Florida’s west coast was hit with a tornado that topped 100 mph and destroyed dozens of homes. It was part of a winter storm that impacted the country’s broader southeast region.
A tornado warning issued for central Broward and Palm Beach counties expired at 12:15 p.m., according to The National Weather Service in Miami.
But a tornado tore through Naples, Fort Myers and surrounding communities. Local news outlets reported a handful of minor injuries, but 31 mobile homes were destroyed and 51 more had sustained serious damage.
The tornado was on the ground for almost two miles with a maximum path width of 125 yards, according to the National Weather Service.
The severe weather came as showers and thunderstorms moved across the region ahead of a strong cold front. Broward and Palm Beach County mostly saw heavy rains throughout the day, but none of the damage Florida’s west coast experienced.
High surf is expected along Palm Beach County beaches into Monday. There is a risk for rip currents up and down the coast.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported that a large tornado crossed Interstate 75 near Naples, causing a semi-truck to overturn. Minor injuries were reported.
Florida Power and Light reported that about 16,000 customers in southwest Florida were without power Sunday morning.
“The tornado took me off my feet blew me toward the east wall and buried me under the sink, refrigerator, kitchen chairs and everything else,” Edward Murray, 81, told Naples Daily News. Murray is a resident of Windcrest and Point Breeze in Cottage Point Trailer Park in Fort Myers, which was also damaged.
Florida’s weather was part of the same storm system that has walloped other parts of the Southeastern U.S. with snow and ice and knocked out power in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.
More than 1,200 Sunday flights at Charlotte Douglas International were cancelled – more than 90% of the airport’s Sunday schedule, according to the flight tracking service flightaware.com. Charlotte is a major hub in the South for American Airlines. In Atlanta, where Delta Air Lines operates its main hub, 350 Sunday flights had been canceled by early afternoon.
By noon Sunday, between 8 and 12 inches of snow had fallen in parts of North Carolina. Snow was expected to reach West Virginia.
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