Tornado destroys dozens of homes across Lee County. South Florida remains unscathed

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A tornado destroyed at least 28 homes in Lee County on Sunday morning as South Florida experienced a weathered down version of the same storm in the afternoon, according to authorities.

At least four people were injured and no less than 62 homes have been deemed unlivable due to structural damages as a result of the tornado that lasted five minutes after touching down around 7:35 a.m., Lee County Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass said Sunday afternoon in a press conference.

The EF2 tornado — with winds up to 118 mph — left about 7,000 homes and approximately 15,000 people without power, Pendergrass said.

“This was a brief tornado, but it was pretty powerful,” Nick Carr, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Miami, added Sunday afternoon.

One of the most impacted areas was the town of Iona, where the tornado destroyed several mobile homes and displaced families, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told reporters as he stood in front of debris and bare trees.

“Today’s mission is going to be, number one, safety, and secondly, making sure that those without a home have shelter and they have somewhere to go,” Marceno said.

A Florida Highway Patrol trooper spotted another tornado in Collier County that turned over a tractor trailer around 9:30 a.m. and posted the video to Twitter.

“There is another likely tornado that we are investigating in Collier County near Naples,” Carr said.

There was a tornado watch in effect across South Florida early in the afternoon, Carr noted, but authorities did not report any damage of the magnitude of that seen in Lee County as the storm eventually moved away from the area.

“Greater Miami and Fort Lauderdale are very fortunate that the same squall line that produced all this — including Florida’s first EF2 tornado since 2016 — weakened sufficiently to only damage trees and produce pockets of (mainly brief) power outages,” tweeted NBC6 chief meteorologist John Morales.

Now South Florida will begin to get cooler thanks to a cold front, Carr said.

The region’s metro areas could experience temperatures as low as in the high 40s on Monday night. Additionally, people farther inland could encounter temperatures as low as in the low 40s.

“Tomorrow night we will probably see the coolest temperatures of the season so far,” Carr said.

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