Most of South Florida, including Broward County, was placed under a tornado watch for several hours Sunday after a tornado struck southwest Florida near Iona in Fort Myers.
A tornado warning issued for central Broward and Palm Beach counties expired at 12:15 p.m., according to The National Weather Service in Miami.
An EF2 tornado destroyed 28 homes and damaged 62 so severely that they were unlivable, the Lee County government said in a press conference. Up to 200 people were forced out of their homes due to the damage, WINK news reports.
Most of the damage took place in the IonaMcGregor area, including at an RV park.
The severe weather came as showers and thunderstorms moved across the region ahead of a strong cold front.
High surf is expected along Palm Beach County beaches into Monday. There is a risk for rip currents up and down the coast.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported that a large tornado crossed Interstate 75 near Naples, causing a semi-truck to overturn. Minor injuries were reported.
Florida Power and Light reported that about 16,000 customers in southwest Florida were without power Sunday morning.
Lee County firefighters told WINK-TV that 20 homes were destroyed at the Tropicana Mobile Home Resort and one person was injured. The mobile home park, built in 1970, has nearly 500 homesites, with residents 55 and up, according to Naples Daily News.
At least four people were injured in Lee County. A truck driver was also injured in neighboring Collier County when their truck was overturned by a tornado on I-75 northbound. The truck blocked traffic in one direction for hours.
Florida’s weather was part of the same storm system that has walloped other parts of the Southeastern U.S. with snow and ice and knocked out power in parts of Georgia and the Carolinas.
More than 1,200 Sunday flights at Charlotte Douglas International were cancelled – more than 90% of the airport’s Sunday schedule, according to the flight tracking service flightaware.com. Charlotte is a major hub in the South for American Airlines. In Atlanta, where Delta Air Lines operates its main hub, 350 Sunday flights had been canceled by early afternoon.
By noon Sunday, between 8 and 12 inches of snow had fallen in parts of North Carolina. Snow was expected to reach West Virginia.
Strong storms racing across Florida knocked out power to nearly 40,000 customers as of Sunday morning.
The Associated Press contributed to this article
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