PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The National Weather Service confirmed on Friday that an EF-0 tornado packing winds up to 85 miles per hour hit Pinellas County during Thursday night's severe weather.
- Severe weather batters Tampa Bay area
- Large oak tree smashes Pasco County home, trapping elderly woman, firefighters say
- Tree falls on Seminole home during severe weather with family inside
- NB I-275 reopened after crane collapses onto roadway
NWS said the track started near the Harley Davidson Dealership and ended in the Gandy area. The path was about 9 miles and the 50-yard-wide tornado lasted only about 10 minutes, according to NWS.
Despite being a short-lived tornado, the storm packed powerful winds which uprooted trees, power poles, billboards and sent debris crashing into homes.
Meteorologists Dan Noah from the National Weather Service says we all were extremely lucky that the tornado mostly stayed in the air and only touched down in a few spots.
Two men narrowly escaped their homes during the storm.
Pinellas Park resident David Smith made a split second decision to hide in the bathroom of his Palm Grove Village mobile home. Moments later, the spot he was just sitting in was covered in debris as his roof, windows and interior drywall caved in.
Oakdale Terrace Seminole resident Brian Sullivan says he turned from laying on his back to his side. It's a move he believes saved his life as a tree punctured his roof and landed in the bed next to him. Sullivan was rushed to the hospital with cuts and bruises but is okay.
“I’m lucky I survived thank you lord. But if my wife would have been in there, she would have been dead," Sullivan said fighting back tears.
February and March are the most dangerous months for tornadoes and the National Weather Service hopes this tornado and these harrowing stories of survival encourages all of us to take weather warnings seriously and take shelter immediately when a storm is heading our way.
Florida averages 52 tornadoes a year.