A violent tornado swept the grounds of Cape Coral in southwest Florida on January 9, 2016. An unprecedented tornado devastated the area leaving hundreds homeless. Luckily, no deaths or severe injuries were reported.
The tornado touched the ground at 6:45 pm (local time) and roamed around the area for 7 minutes while crossing a distance of 5.6 km (3.5 miles) near Beach Parkway West, between Chiquita and Sands Boulevard. The event was isolated, and no other area in the vicinity suffered any damage.
Video credit: NBC2 News
According to the National Weather Service (NWS) the tornado was of EF2 strength with wind speeds reaching 212.4 km/h (132 mph). Between 25.4 and 38.1 mm (1 and 1.5 inches) of rainfall was recorded during the severe weather outbreak.
Andrew McKaughan, the NWS meteorologist, said this was the strongest tornado event observed in southwest Florida since 1953.
Video credit: FSWC Drone Academy
"There’s been numerous studies that basically look at structures, what they’re made of and the impacts from debris. So if you have this level of damage to this type of structure, you had this kind of peak wind speed," McKaughan said explaining how the strength of a tornado is deduced from resulting damage.
"We’ll get EF0s or EF1s occasionally, but they’re not quite as strong as what we saw this Saturday. And that’s all of Florida really, at least, our part of Florida,"he added.
About 200 homes suffered about $6 million worth of damage to the area, the Cape Coral Police Department reported. Nearly 2 000 citizens were left without power supplies as the tornado struck the grounds.
"There was a lot of damage and it’s going to take time to get everything taken care of," Cape Coral Police Department spokesman Dana Coston said.
The county and state emergency management departments are currently working to determine whether the amount of damage meets the thresholds for providing state and federal relief aid funds, according to the Governor Rick Scott.
Featured image: EF2 tornado damage, Cape Coral, Florida, January 10, 2016. Image credit: FSWC Drone Academy