EF-1 tornado hits area; trees down power lines

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Residents were unprepared for the storm that dropped nearly an inch of water in less than 10 minutes on Saturday, April 25 shortly before 6 p.m. Motorists pulled over to wait out the 10-minute deluge of wind, rain and pea-sized hail on the Westside, while at 5:52 p.m. a confirmed EF-1 tornado cut a 300-yard swatch for 3.45 miles through the Southside, including San Marco and San Jose.

The severe thunderstorm intensified as it moved over the St. Johns River, developing into a tornado as it moved ashore. It pushed south of Hendricks Elementary School, crossed Philips Highway and neared Englewood High School before weakening.

It was reported that the 104-mile-an-hour winds damaged 46 homes and destroyed five, and left 18,000 customers without power. Damage elsewhere was attributed to winds of 70-80 mph.

In Avondale, John Boggs said that a tree downed a power line over on Glendale Street, leaving a live wire arcing for three to four hours before JEA could address it. The tree also fell on a car. In nearby Lakeside, dozens of cars ringed Lakeside Park while guests attended an event at the Ortega River Club. Trees fell on at least two of those parked cars.

Boaters at the Marina at Ortega Landing kept nervous eyes on their canvas biminis and watched poolside umbrellas break off from the force of the wind; one sailed into the Ortega River, landing under a neighboring house’s dock. “Fortunately, there was no major damage to any of our customers’ boats,” said Bill Hallock, the marina’s maintenance manager.

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