Thunderstorms Lash Parts of the South, Spawning Tornadoes

At least three tornadoes hit Florida on Thursday evening, damaging homes and downing trees and power lines, as severe thunderstorms tore across parts of the Southeast, the National Weather Service in Tallahassee said.

The worst of the tornadoes struck just before 4 p.m. in the unincorporated community of Hosford, Fla., about 30 miles west of Tallahassee, said Wright Dobbs, a meteorologist with the Weather Service.

No injuries were reported, according to local officials, who said emergency workers were still trying to assess the damage. “We have power lines down and no power,” said Lisa Shuler, the assistant emergency management director of Liberty County. The county sheriff’s office urged residents to “stay off the roads.”

Images posted to social media appeared to show downed trees and crumpled rooftops in Hosford. About 50 miles southwest, in the city of Lynn Haven, residents reported golf ball-size hail that smashed into their homes and cars. Trees and roofs had also been damaged, an operator with the Lynn Haven Police Department said by phone.

Sarah Kirkland Marler, a resident, said that she had sheltered in the bathroom during the worst of the storm, which dented both of her family’s vehicles and shattered the windshields.

“It had been really still, real kind of almost eerie, and then all of a sudden the wind picked up out of nowhere,” Ms. Kirkland Marler said, adding that the storm had downed power poles and lines, as well as fences and carports in her neighborhood.

On Thursday afternoon, a 33-year-old man was seriously injured after being struck by lightning on a pier in Panama City Beach, the city’s Police Department said in a statement.

As of about 7 p.m., more than 11 million people in parts of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas remained under a severe thunderstorm watch, according to the National Weather Service.

In Florida, close to 20,000 customers were without power, according to

Forecasters with the Weather Service said that the severe weather was expected to ease somewhat overnight, before picking up again on Friday and lasting through the weekend to deliver heavy rainfall across parts of the South. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are not uncommon at this time of year, they added.

Less common, however, was the large hail reported across the region in the past several days, said Richard Bann, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service forecast desk in College Park, Md. “That’s unusual,” he said.

Source link