Intense thunderstorm spawns 3 tornadoes and a meteotsunami in Florida, US

Intense thunderstorm spawns 3 tornadoes and a meteotsunami in Florida, US

Intense thunderstorms wreaked havoc across Florida in the early morning hours of January 17, 2016 (local time). A powerful storm spawned three confirmed tornadoes and a meteotsunami, bringing widespread coastal flooding and inflicting major damage to the affected areas. Two people died while several sustained serious injuries.

Severe thunderstorm, accompanied with wind gusts of over 128.7 km/h caused the water levels in Naples to rise abruptly. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed the occurrence of a meteotsunami phenomena.

A meteotsunami is usually associated with fast moving aerial systems, such as squall lines, which cause disturbances in the air pressure field capable of producing waves in the ocean, traveling at the same speed as the weather system.

The already high tides in Southwest Florida were greatly enhanced by a squall line. As the storm moved in, water levels quickly rose to 2.1 m (7 feet), which is almost 1.8 m (6 feet) higher than an average high tide.

Video credit: iLMeteoReporter

The severe storm caused widespread damage and power loss to 100 000 homes across the state. EF2 tornado damage was reported in Seista Key and Duette, where 2 people died, and 4 children suffered injuries as the family's mobile home was destroyed.

These two deaths are the first arising from a tornado event in Florida since the Tropical Storm "Debby" battered the area in 2012.

According to latest media reports, the Duette twister packed winds higher than 200 km/h (124.3 mph) along a 14.4 km (9 miles) long stretch and a 91.4 m (300 feet) wide swath of destruction.

Video credit WeatherNation

In Seista Key, the twister was accompanied with winds of up to 112.6 km/h (70 mph), the NWS reported.

An EF1 tornado touched down near Hobe Sound Sunday, moved northeast and weakened to an EF0. Damage was reported to roofs and cars, and several trees were knocked over and uprooted.

Featured image: Tornado damage, Florida, January 18, 2016. Image credit: Mary McGuire via Twitter

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