Tornado touches down in Florida near Tallahassee airport; thousands without power

Grace Pateras

Jeff Burlew
| Tallahassee Democrat

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The National Weather Service in Tallahassee confirmed a tornado touched ground near the Tallahassee International Airport late Wednesday morning.

The storm has caused power outages and road closures. The city of Tallahassee was reporting Wednesday afternoon more than 4,800 utility customers without power across the city.

At 11:50 a.m. local time, the confirmed tornado was located near Florida A&M University and moving east at 55 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee:

“A tornado is on the ground,” the Weather Service tweeted. “TAKE COVER NOW! Move to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. Avoid windows. If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.”

The storm was dropping torrential rainfall and the Weather Service said it may lead to flash flooding.

A history of twisters: Tornadoes in Florida since 1950

The Florida Highway Patrol is reporting the closure of parts of Interstate 10 due to water on the road.

At least one fatality on Interstate 10 has been reported. The accident occurred at about 11:45 a.m., just as a severe weather system moved through the area, though few details of the fatal crash were immediately available.

Airport temporarily closed

The Tallahassee International Airport temporarily closed for damage assessment, the airport said on Twitter.

The tornado left a path of downed trees, a flipped over plane and debris at the airport.

Passengers and staff were evacuated to stairwells inside the airport when severe weather swept in from the west just before noon.  

Pollard said a twin engine, privately owned aircraft was flipped over, several other planes were repositioned by winds and there was damage to hanger doors and roofs. He described the damage overall as minimal and said no injuries had been reported.

“We immediately focused on doing a damage assessment and the safety of our airfield environment,” he said. “Our airfield looks like it’s in pretty good shape here.”

He noted how quick action inside the airport ensured people were out of harm’s way once tornado warning started to roll in just before noon.

“It’s important that we acted swiftly and immediately when we got the warning,” he said. “It’s an example of how our focus is always on safety.”

Follow the Tallahassee Democrat on Twitter: @TDOnline

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