NWS confirms tornado touched down in Winter Garden

EF0 tornado traveled for 1.2 miles through planned community, NWS says

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. – The National Weather Service confirmed on Friday that a tornado touched down in Winter Garden on Thursday night as Hurricane Hermine hit Florida.

NWS said the EF0 tornado began midway between Avalon Road and Hamlin Groves Trail, just south of Porter Road. The tornado continued northeast for 1.2 miles, through some a mostly deserted planned community and adjacent wooded area.

"Toward the north end of the track, the tornado affected a neighborhood of new homes, resulting in minor damage to several of them," NWS said in its bulletin. "A pool screen enclosure and fences were damaged and a few homes experienced soffit, window and air conditioning unit damage due to impact from flying debris."

Take a look at the trees that were literally snapped in two by winds on Thursday night in Winter Garden. #Hermine

Posted by Erik Sandoval - News 6 on Thursday, September 1, 2016

The strong winds snapped over 100 trees along the track before lifting near New Independence Parkway, east of Hamlin Groves Trail.

An EF0 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale means the tornado is described as "weak" with winds at 65 to 80 mph.

Strong winds snapped several trees in half Thursday night along Porter Road in Winter Garden, where a fence was also destroyed.

Keith Kotch with Orange County Emergency Management was surveying the damage Friday.

"What I noticed over there was, in particular, were trees going in different directions, which indicated something caused these trees to be felled in opposite directions," said Kotch.

Winter Garden saw its share of damage from Thursday night's storm. Brian Kinne and his daughters were one of a few families who sought shelter in a pantry.

Seconds before the storm roared through, his curiosity took him to his front porch.

"As I looked at the sky, of course, the street lights were on. You could see a white cloud. It was big at the top. It was like a funnel shape towards the ground. I couldn't see it on the ground or anything like that but you could see a formation," said Kinne.

Implants from Ohio, Kinne said he and his family have never experienced a storm like Thursday's. Even so, the family still had an emergency plan in place.

"I said, this is not a drill. This is real. Hide in the pantry," said Kinne.

Kelly Kruse did the same with her 13 year-old daughter.

"It was about 8:30 and the alert went off on my phone and I screamed upstairs to my daughter and I told her to get downstairs immediately and we went to the pantry and that's when the train noise came here," said Kruse.

Neighbors say as soon as the storm came it went.

Downed trees along Porter Road in Winter Garden. pic.twitter.com/qUmFLDlSHq

— Vanessa Araiza (@AraizaReport) September 2, 2016

Damage could be seen Friday morning. Part of a home's pool screen was crumbled and pieces of another home's roof were blown off.

Even with the scattered debris and snapped trees people who live in the area say they fared pretty well given the circumstances.

"I think it could have been a lot worse. I think all things considered we're pretty lucky," said Jason Kruse.

The main question now is if a tornado caused the damage.

The Category 1 storm, which had maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, is the first hurricane to come ashore in the state since Wilma struck 11 years ago.