NWS: Weak tornado hits Winter Garden

- Some Winter Garden residents are cleaning up after a weak tornado blew through the area.  

Using the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, the National Weather Service on Friday confirmed that an EF0 tornado touched down as one of Hurricane Hermine's rain bands passed through the area Thursday night, prompting the issuance of a tornado warning.  With an EF0 tornado, there is superficial damage to structures and vegetation, but well-built structures are typically unscathed.

Acres of pine trees were split like toothpicks, after strong winds hit hard.  At The Cove at Hamlin in Winter Garden, neighbors said it happened just before 9 o'clock. Neighbor

"It sounded like a freight train," said Joseph Lumia.  "Went into one of the closets for safety."

"It started getting really windy, and we ran into the house, and I couldn't close the car door," said Beth Prascak.  "It was quite scary."

Bobby Jones, another resident, said, "It sounded like a large truck train, so I cracked my door, and I seen stuff blowing around and the rain was like straw. "

One home received damage to a lanai; another had roof damage and trees were also uprooted.

Lumia said he had to fix a shattered window. "The chair from my next door neighbor was lifted off the front porch and flew into my bedroom window here and shattered it."

The National Weather Service had asked Orange County Emergency Management to investigate whether this was a strong wind storm or tornado.  Five to 10 acres of trees were toppled over off Porter Road.  An Orange County Emergency Management Services spokesman said there is evidence of rotation in the area.  

While this was officially a tornado, neighbors realize the damage isn't as bad as it could be. 

Jones added, "Definitely blessed it could have been a lot worse."

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