Tornado reportedly touched ground in Polk County Friday night, National Weather Service says

Posted at 11:31 PM, Oct 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-19 13:38:33-04

At least two tornadoes were reported in the Tampa Bay area on Friday night and into early Saturday morning from Tropical Storm Nestor, which is now a post-tropical cyclone.

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Shortly after 11 p.m. on Friday, the National Weather Service said a tornado was moving towards Kathleen, Florida in Polk County. The sheriff's office confirmed on Saturday morning that an apparent tornado touched down in the west/northwest part of the county.

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The sheriff's office says the tornado initially touched down near Lakeland Linder Airport, before it continued north/northeast. They say it stretched as far as Tom Bryant Lane.

Authorities say they received dozens of reports of damage in several areas, including the New and Old Tampa Highway corridors and Timber Ridge north, south, east and west areas. Powers lines and trees are reported down near Mt. Tabor Road and the surrounding area, according to the sheriff's office.

Deputies say no serious injuries have been reported as of 9:30 a.m.

"Thankfully, we have not had any reported serious injuries related to the 'long track' tornado that touched down in our unincorporated areas in northwest Polk County last night," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. "However, there are many people dealing with damage to their homes and property this morning, some of it severe. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and if there is anything you can do to help your friends and neighbors, do it. We still have lots of rain, and the possibility of more severe weather today, so be careful! Please drive safely!"


At this time, the sheriff's office says the following roads in the county are either closed or there is restricted traffic:

  • New Tampa Hwy/Hibiscus Pkwy E.
  • Clark Rd/New Tampa Hwy.
  • Walker Rd/Swindell Rd.
  • Bella Vista St W/Galloway Rd N.
  • Bella Vista St W/Sutton Rd.
  • Swindell Rd E of Kirkland
  • Publix Rd/Mt. Tabor Rd.

Significant damage was seen throughout Kathleen, including major damage to the roof of Kathleen Middle School.

PHOTOS: Severe weather damage in Polk County

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