Tornado hits South Fort Myers with nearly 95 mph winds & $500,000 worth of damage

Tornado Aftermath, Florida — Courtesy: Shutterstock — Image by: Lawoowoo

A tornado ripped through South Fort Myers on Tuesday, smashing houses and causing trees to fall onto cars while wind gusts nearly reached hurricane status. At least one person was injured.

“We were able to get our storm survey completed and we did find a short-lived tornado,” said Austen Flannery, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. “We are estimating the winds to be 95 miles per hour and the tornado was on the ground just over a mile and about two minutes on the ground.”

Flannery said the initial damage is estimated at around $500,000.

Major wind damage could be seen throughout the Eagle Ridge community, where pool cages were crushed and outdoor furniture was thrown across lawns. A palm tree fell and crushed a car at one home.

Strong winds snapped signs and trees and damaged several roofs.

“You guys are getting really strong winds down there and it’s not associated with rain,” Flannery said earlier in the day. “There was a gust of 77 miles per hour at Punta Gorda Airport.”

Catrina Kuspe of Seattle, who was visiting the Twin Eagle home of her in-laws Bill and Bonnie Kuspe, was cut by flying shards of glass when a portion of the home’s shutters came crashing through the window. 

Her husband Aaron Kuspe said his wife may have also fractured a bone in her hand.

“About 6:30 this morning it came through and we were sleeping, it felt like an earthquake,” he said. The couple and their three kids, ages 6, 7, and 15, had just flown in to be with his parents.

“The next thing you know something broke the window and came through and the air just gushed right through and it was almost like a suction,” he said. “It sounded like a freight train, just like they say in the movies. It reminded me of The Twister at Universal Studios.”

FPL reports hundreds of power outages

Florida Power & Light reported thousands of power outages on Tuesday on its website, with the majority of those power outages stretching from downtown Fort Myers to the North Naples and Bonita Springs area. 

In addition, a phone company message stated that more than 5,000 customers were without power as of 12:25 p.m. Tuesday.

“We are experiencing multiple outages due to severe weather,” a phone message says. “There is no estimated time of restoral for any area.”

Clean-up efforts began immediately on Tuesday at Eagle Ridge Golf Course and Twin Eagle Lane, which was also damaged.

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