Tropical Storm Nestor triggers tornadoes in Florida, leaving thousands without power
A possible tornado tore through the city of Seminole, Fla., leaving behind significant damage late Friday night. A Seminole resident recalled the moments when he was jolted awake by the sound of debris crashing and banging.
“Well I was in bed back here in this back bedroom and all of a sudden it started raining really hard and it woke me up. Hardly anything wakes me up, but it woke me up. Then the bed started shaking in the trailer and I thought uh oh were on our way to Kansas because it was really bad,” the resident said.
“Scary, I was never so scared,” he said.
A confirmed tornado was reported near Lakeland, Fla., on Friday night. There have been reports of damage to homes and a church in Kathleen, Fla., which is located just northwest of Lakeland.
“Thankfully, we have not had any reported serious injuries,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a Saturday statement. “However, there are many people dealing with damage to their homes and property this morning, some of it severe.”
Nestor started to lose some of its tropical characteristics Saturday morning as it approached Florida‘s west coast. The storm still packs rain and tornado threats, the National Hurricane Center reported.
Nestor made landfall on St. Vincent Island, Fla., at 2 p.m. on Saturday with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.
AccuWeather predicted Nestor could make landfall within 50 miles of Mexico Beach, Fla., the site where Hurricane Michael made landfall as a destructive Category 5 hurricane just over a year ago on Oct. 10, 2018. St. Vincent Island is roughly 30 miles away from Mexico Beach.
Tropical storm warnings and storm surge warnings were issued along Florida‘s west-central coast before the storm made landfall. A tornado watch was also issued for part of central Florida due to the risk of tornadoes on the eastern side of the storm.
Storm surge along the coast and heavy tropical downpours have already lead to flooding across parts of Florida Friday night into Saturday morning.
AccuWeather National Weather Reporter Jonathan Petramala posted a video on Twitter early Saturday morning which showed storm surge flooding beginning in Apalachicola, Fla.
By 5 a.m. Saturday, Daytona Beach, Fla., had already broken their daily rainfall record, with 3.26 inches having fallen and the rain still coming down, the National Weather Service office in Melbourne said on Twitter.
“This also makes October 2019 the 5th wettest on record with 12.72 [inches],” the post said. “The wettest October on record for Daytona Beach is 13.68 [inches] set in 1941.”
A report from Franklin County, Fla., stated that several trees were down along Highway 98 five miles west of Carrabelle. Bay water was reportedly splashing onto the road.
The rating for this system on the AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes is less than 1 and will be focused along the Florida Panhandle. The AccuWeather RealImpact Scale for Hurricanes ranges from values of less than 1 to 5.
In terms of economic impacts to the region, AccuWeather founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers said, “No significant overall economic impact is expected,” from the storm, but he added, “There will be some brief economic impact where heavy rains and coastal flooding occurs.”
The University of West Florida closed its campus on Friday afternoon and will remain closed until midday Saturday in anticipation of Nestor.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell issued a state of emergency declaration on Thursday as a result of the storm’s projected impacts in addition to lingering issues from last week’s deadly collapse of a hotel that was under construction near the city’s French Quarter.
City officials are working to demolish two unstable cranes at the site of the Hard Rock hotel collapse, which killed three people and injured more than 20 people on Saturday, Oct. 12.
Nestor will weaken as it moves inland, but much of the southeastern United States can still expect gusty winds, flooding rainfall and isolated tornadoes.
“Strong winds, storm surge, heavy rainfall and dangerous rip currents are expected,” the National Weather Service said in a Twitter post.
“The storm will race northeastward across southern Georgia and the eastern Carolinas into early Sunday,” Eric Leister said.
According to Leister, wind gusts of 40 mph to 50 mph are expected in those areas, as well as widespread rainfall.
“Nestor will produce rainfall of 2 to 4 inches from northern Florida and southern Georgia into the eastern Carolinas with an AccuWeather Local StormMax of 6 inches, resulting in localized flooding and travel disruptions,” Leister said.
Tropical Storm Nestor strengthened into the 14th-named system of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season early Friday afternoon over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, there are currently no tropical disturbances that are expected to develop into a named-tropical system such as Nestor.
“In terms of the long-range outlook for the Atlantic Basin, there may be significant inhibiting factors for tropical development during the latter part of October into early November,” Kottlowski said.
“It is possible that tropical activity effectively shuts down after Nestor,” he added.