Was that a tornado in the Keys? Residents surely felt something

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Jonathan Rizzo, National Weather Service Key West’s warning coordinator meteorologist, was on his way to Plantation Key Monday afternoon to conduct a storm survey to determine if Sunday’s wild weather fit the criteria to be considered a tornado.

William Gray, who lives on Apache Street, one street to the south of Indian Mound Trail, said the storm was loud, but the damage was minimal.

“It was moving pretty fast,” Gray said. “It took my gas grill and moved it from the west side of the house to the east side of the house.”

The wood partition wall that separates Patty Murphy’s Plantation Villas condominium patio from her neighbor’s unit blew down, but her her neighbor’s patio was untouched.

“Her orchid is still hanging,” Murphy said.

Gray said the spring brings violent storms to Islamorada every year, but tornadoes are rare.

“We’re in the open Gulf. It doesn’t slow anything down,” Gray said. “We get these fronts this time of year. It’s like a hurricane.”

On Sunday night, several residents of the Indian Waterways subdivision off mile marker 89.2 on the bay side of U.S. 1 reported “doors ripped off their hinges,” said Alan Albanese, senior forecaster with National Weather Service Key West. Islamorada Fire Rescue responded to the neighborhood around 9:50 p.m.

South Florida experienced heavy winds, rains and thunderstorms Sunday night. Smith Shoal Light, about 10 miles northwest of Key West, recorded wind gusts of 55 mph.


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