Cars laid stacked atop one another like a scene from a child’s abandoned playroom at parking lots across Broward College’s North Campus after a tornado swept the area Wednesday morning.
Touching down at 9:30 a.m., the tornado’s winds shook the area for six minutes, overturning cars on the turnpike and toppling trees and power lines in Coconut Creek, according to the National Weather Service. As it intensified to peak winds of 90 to 100 miles per hour, it turned its course to the Wynmoor Village Condominium complex in Coconut Creek, where large trees were ripped from their roots, light poles were snapped and concrete blocks were peeled from condos and hurled yards away.
On the southbound turnpike, just north of the Coconut Creek exit, fierce winds overturned a tractor trailer and blew the hood off another truck.
A white Hyundai Santa Fe Sport 2.0T traveling south was picked up by the high winds and tossed on the outside shoulder of the northbound lanes.
The tornado damaged the roof of the North County Homeless Assistance Center in Pompano Beach and flipped a tractor trailer at a Whole Foods warehouse along Blount Road before dissipating.
Despite the wreckage, only one person was injured: the driver of the Hyundai.
“Everybody was very lucky,” said Broward sheriff’s fire spokesman Mike Jachles. “This could have been much worse but as it was, it was more of a headache.”
The driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to Broward Health North.
Throughout the morning, text messages and phone calls flooded the phones of students at Broward College. And advisory ran on the college’s website urging students to “seek shelter immediately” and “avoid the area.” Classes were canceled on the north campus until 5 p.m.
About 3,000 people lost power when the tornado struck, but electricity was restored “within minutes,” said Florida Power & Light spokesman Bill Orlove. A downed power line on Blount Road was cleared and electricity was restored by Wednesday evening, FPL said.
But South Florida isn’t in the clear yet.
A low-pressure system coming from the Gulf of Mexico will likely drench the region for the next two days and could produce “isolated tornadoes,” according to the National Weather Service.
There could be strong storm cells bringing wind gusts of 60 mph and at least an inch and a half of rain by the end of the week, said National Weather Service meteorologist Barry Baxter.
The wet weather will bring warmer temperatures. High temperatures for the next two days should be in the upper 70s, with lows in the lower 70s.
By Friday, a cold front is expected to come in from the north, slightly lowering the temperature. The low for Saturday morning is expected to be around 50 degrees.
“It will be a bit cooler by the end of the week,” he said. “But nothing too cold.”