Tropical Storm Nestor spawned a string of tornadoes that damaged homes, uprooted trees and overturned vehicles as it moved inland over the Florida Panhandle from the Gulf of Mexico, late on Friday and early on Saturday, officials said.
A tornado touched down near Seminole, Fla., about 15 miles west of St. Petersburg, around 9:20 p.m. on Friday, the National Weather Service said. A mobile home park was damaged and no injuries were reported, it said.
Another tornado, with winds up to 120 m.p.h., touched down in Hillsborough County, which includes Tampa, around 11:30 p.m. on Friday and crossed into neighboring Polk County, where it damaged at least 50 homes and businesses, the Weather Service said.
For about 45 minutes, the tornado tore through the county, Paul Womble, the director of Polk County Emergency Management, said on Saturday.
“We were lucky and very blessed to not have any injuries,” he said.
The tornado overturned an 18-wheel vehicle onto a sport utility vehicle. The occupants of both vehicles escaped injury, The Tampa Bay Times reported. It also caused severe damage to a middle school, prompting administrators to cancel classes for Monday and Tuesday.
A third tornado, with winds of nearly 100 m.p.h., struck Lee County in western Florida, on Saturday morning, damaging at least a dozen homes. The Cape Coral Fire Department said on Facebook that there were no reported injuries.
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Mariel Padilla