Tornadoes slam Florida and Virginia, creating major damage


A pair of weekend tornadoes struck along the coastal Atlantic touching down on Virginia and Florida as powerful winds and heavy rains hit parts of the South.

On Sunday, a tornado was confirmed shortly after 6 p.m. ET in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The twister landed about three hours after the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for the area, the weather service and city officials reported.

There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.

Early damage reports included downed trees in the Great Neck area, including trees falling on a house and a vehicle, Virginia Beach city officials tweeted. The city’s fire department also tweeted that crews were responding to “multiple calls” of major storm damage and “reports of multiple homes with gas leaks.” 

As a precaution, Virginia Beach officials decided to cancel Sunday night’s performances of the popular Something in The Water outdoor festival. 

“No one wants to make this call, but we cannot predict nor negotiate with the weather tonight. It is our responsibility to ensure public safety above all else,” City Manager Patrick Duhaney said in a statement.

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On Saturday, an F2 tornado touched down in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, that resulted in damaged homes, flipped vehicles, and snapped trees.

The late afternoon twister, along with winds of up to 100 mph, struck near the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, the weather service’s offices in Miami reported. 

“This was a fairly active weather pattern as a warm maritime air mass and within that, a lot of moisture,” were among the causes of the tornado, Shawn Bhatti, a weather service meteorologist in Miami told USA TODAY on Sunday.

The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department has not reported any major injuries or fatalities. A city spokeswoman said officials deactivated emergency protocols and were working through the aftermath on Sunday.

The weather service had placed a large stretch of central Florida under a tornado watch Saturday afternoon as thunderstorms raced across the state. Tornado warnings were still in effect in Palm Beach Gardens and surrounding areas early Sunday as heavy rains headed to central Florida.

By late Sunday, the rain cleared as the region is expected to be quieter this week with only slight chances for wet weather, Bhatti said.

“The worst is behind us for the next week or so,” Bhatti said. “We should finally get some clearing.”

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