Miami-Dade battered by storm Thursday; Friday forecast calls for wet start but sunny by end of day

05/15/2014 3:04 PM

05/15/2014 9:53 PM

A powerful storm pushed through Thursday afternoon, causing downed power lines, flooding and some moments of concern when a tornado touched down west of Miami International Airport.

But the good news: Friday should be much better and no major damage was reported, according to the National Weather Service.

“By Friday evening, it should be clear and dry,” said Evelyn Rivera, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “The worst of it went through [Thursday], and it looks like everything is OK.”

At about 2:30 p.m., a twister moving northeast was spotted by someone at the airport tower. Cities including Hialeah, Miami Lakes and Opa-locka were put on alert. People were told to seek shelter and move away from windows. Emergency alerts were sent over via cellphones, social media, radio and other news outlets.

A relatively weak tornado churned through a nearby corner of Doral at that time, slamming a vehicle with airborne garbage cans and ripping a large limb off of a tree, according to a National Weather Service report issued late Thursday. The write-up gave the tornado its lowest score possible, a zero, and said peak wind speeds hit 65 mph-- tropical-storm strength but weaker than a hurricane.

The report listed two areas of damage in Doral along NW 14th Street: one at NW 82nd Avenue and one at NW 79th Avenue. With a path of 10 yards, the tornado moved about a quarter of a mile before it ended.

Severe weather brought 62 flight cancellations at MIA, and another 150 delays. Tornado warnings were canceled around 3:30 p.m. as the storm weakened. People took to social media to post pictures of the weather, some spotting the funnel cloud.

Greg Huxman was on the 836 expressway just east of the Palmetto at about 2:30p.m. when he said he saw a funnel cloud.

“I went to school in Mississippi, so I know what it looks like,” said Huxman, 29, who posted the photo on Twitter. “It went away within a matter of minutes.”

And while the tornado warning was canceled, the bad weather also made for a soggy commute across South Florida. The heavy rain caused some flooding. Florida Power & Light reported about 3,200 customers without power in Miami-Dade and just fewer than 300 customers in Broward.

The nasty weather also caused havoc on the road with several accidents and slow-moving traffic, but no serious collisions were reported, said Joe Sanchez, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman. Some flights at Miami, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Opa-locka were delayed. But by about 4 p.m., planes began to resume their scheduled arrival and departure times.

Doral Police Chief Richard Blom said reports were coming in of power lines down at Northwest 82nd Avenue and Northwest 13th Street. There was also some flooding throughout the city.

Some cities were trying to be proactive. Even though most of the heavy rain moved through, showers were expected Thursday night into Friday morning.

“With this volume of rain, we know there's going to be flooding," Opa-locka city spokesman David Chiverton said Thursday afternoon. "We have these portable pumps to redirect some water into the drainage system."

Miami Herald staff writers Lance Dixon, Joey Flechas, Douglas Hanks, Stefania Ferro and Christina Veiga contributed to this report.

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