A waterspout came ashore as a small tornado in Naples on Friday morning, snapping trees, tossing pool furniture around but injuring no one, Naples Fire Chief Steve McInerny said.
The system continued through Collier County as a thunderstorm, producing heavy rains, high winds and even hail.
“We were fortunate that nobody was injured,” McInerny said.
The National Weather Service confirmed a water spout hit land just before 10:30 a.m. on the 1900 block of Gulf Shore Boulevard and essentially turned into the smallest ranked tornado, EF0. It came ashore near the Edgewater Beach Hotel, McInerny said.
“There was a worker there working on the grounds that saw the spout,” McInerny said. “He said he, quote, ran for his life and took shelter.”
The tornado made its way northeast toward the Ambassador Club condominiums before dying out when it reached Moorings Bay, McInerny said. It tossed furniture into the pool, broke windows, snapped tree trunks in half, ripped tiles off of roofs, and lifted sliding glass doors off their tracks.
“All of a sudden Mother Nature unleashed her fury,” resident Malcom Macvicar told NBC-2.
The damage was in an area of approximately 2 square miles, officials said.
“I was asleep and suddenly you hear a roar you couldn’t imagine. I’m from Missouri, so it sounded exactly like a tornado,” said Amy Denman.
The EF0 tornado had maximum winds in the 65-80 mph range, according to the National Weather Service. As the system moved through the area, nickel- to quarter-sized hail was reported from East Naples to Golden Gate Estates.
A Weather Channel analysis published last month reported that Florida has seen more tornadoes per square mile than any other state since the 1950s. However, the tornadoes tend to be small, weak and short-lived, according to a Tampa Times report.
“Typically, people don’t really think or see Florida as a tornado state, but they’re here,” McInerny said. “... This is just another lesson of always being prepared and taking the appropriate measures to stay clear of windows and doorways when these storms are approaching.”
About 4,000 customers lost power due to the severe weather early Friday. There were several reports of trees downed in downtown Naples. One reader reported dime-sized hail in Golden Gate Estates. The Golden Gate Fire District reported nickel- to quarter-size hail at Wilson Boulevard and Immokalee Roads to the National Weather Service.
The outages are scattered, with most of the customers west of Interstate 75.
“Power crews are out there working to restore power to customers,” Florida Power & Light spokesman Neil Nissan said.
Collier County was under a severe thunderstorm warning until 10:30 a.m.
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