Florida was definitely hit hard overnight – the worst time for tornadoes. People just don’t get the warnings and it’s evident in this case:
The Associated Press says authorities have encountered an unknown number of fatalities, and quotes a Lake County sheriff’s dispatcher as saying there is “every kind of damage you can think of.”
WESH-TV reports “several” deaths.
“This situation is much more grave than we ever imagined,” said WESH-TV reporter Amanda Ober in a live report. Ober says the damage is most severe in mobile home parks and that the Lady Lake Assembly of God Church is completely destroyed.
Lake County spokesperson Christopher Patton says the county’s emergency operations center has been activated to coordinate the government’s search and rescue efforts.
Meanwhile, only one Lake County school is closed today. “All other schools are open today with expected delays,” Patton said in a statement.
Several tornado warnings were posted for Volusia County and surrounding areas this morning. The National Weather Service expected several strong storm cells to impact a wide stretch of the state, extending from west to east for at least 50 miles.
Damage reports began pouring in around 4 a.m.
Storm Team 8 Meteorologist John Winter says there have been no immediate reports of damage in the Tampa Bay area as the western edge of the front passed over the peninsula.
However, Winter said, localized flooding is likely this morning. Doppler radar estimates some northern parts of the Tampa Bay area may have received four to six inches of rain overnight.
Florida’s Department of Emergency Management says damage assessment teams are
headed to Central Florida to assess the aftermath. WESH-TV says at least one shelter is open.
Progress energy reports power outages are currently impacting 20,000 central Florida customers.
In 1998, more than a half dozen tornadoes touched down in roughly the same area of Central Florida, killing 42 people and inuring 265 others, according to weather service records.
According to Preston Cooke, Orange County Emergency Preparedness Division, who is being interviewed on Fox News right now, they don’t use sirens in that area but encourage people to use weather radios for potential threats.
I hate to say this, but I wonder when the claims of Global Warming will enter into this news story?