SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -
On Wednesday, multiple tornado warnings were issued for a tornadic thunderstorm that produced two tornadoes. The National Weather Service (NWS) completed a storm damage survey on Thursday of the damage that occurred in Pinellas, Hillsborough, and in Polk counties.
“We look for 28 different types of damage, and then we look at the degree of damage for each item. So, let’s say it’s a single-family home. Are the shingles off? Is the roof off? That’ll equate to different wind speeds,” says Daniel Noah, Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay.
The first tornado warning was issued in Pinellas County close to 4:00 pm. The tornado traveled 13.1 miles and had a width of 300 yards. It developed in Seminole and lifted just before making it to Tampa International Airport. It has been given an EF-2 strength with estimated peak wind gusts of 125 mph. This is where a tornadoes peak wind gust is anywhere from 111-135 mph. This is the first EF-2 or stronger to touchdown in Tampa/St. Pete proper since October of 1992.
Another tornado warning was issued for northeastern Hillsborough County just before 5:00 pm. Doppler radar continued to show on-and-off rotation along with a well-defined couplet from the same severe thunderstorm where the tornado was confirmed from social media photos of having a wedge-like tornado appearance. This tornado touched down near Plant City in Hillsborough County and traveled 12.9 miles to north Lakeland. There were numerous trees down in this area in addition to two small barns that were completely destroyed.
When the state of Florida typically sees any strong or violent tornadoes, it usually occurs during our cooler months. This is due to the upper level jet stream that is usually much closer, which organizes thunderstorms in a different manner compared to our typical summertime thunderstorms.