Tornado plows across a half mile stretch of Hialeah ahead of chilly winter air

A small tornado, perhaps 100 yards wide, touched down in western Hialeah Sunday night, knocking down trees and power lines and flipping two vehicles along a half-mile path with 85-mph winds.

“When we got here, you could barely walk down the street,” said David Rodriguez, a spokesman for the Hialeah Fire Department.

A neighbor salvages pieces of awning as residents and the City of Hialeah clean up downed fences, trees, and awnings after a tornado touched down near the Garden of the Arts park in Hialeah, Florida on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Carl Juste cjuste@miamiherald.com

No injuries or major structural damage was reported.

The National Weather Service confirmed Monday that a ‘high-end” EF-0 twister touched down around 8 p.m. just west of the Palmetto Expressway near West 22nd Avenue and 74th Street. The tornado then headed east, northeast, rolling over the Palm Lakes neighborhood where it overturned two vehicles.

The EF-0 category is the lowest for tornadoes, with winds between 65 and 85 mph.

tornado path.PNG

The tornado appeared to lift around West 16th Court, according to a weather crew that visited the city and estimated the twister was about 100 yards wide. Some trees were damaged around Hialeah-Miami Lakes High School, but the damage was likely caused from downward winds as the tornado lifted, the weather service said in a statement.

Damage was limited to the small area along the short track, spokesman Rob Molleda said.

The tornado was spotted near West 76th Street between 17th and 19th avenues, where large trees were uprooted and blocked streets late into the night, Rodriguez said.

Palmetto General Hospital lost power, but it has since been restored, he said. Some trees were down near Palm Lakes Elementary, but the school sustained no damage, Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho tweeted Monday.

City of Hialeah workers remove downed trees and branches while the neighborhood recovers from a tornado touching down near the Garden of the Arts park in Hialeah, Florida on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. Carl Juste cjuste@miamiherald.com

The tornado preceded a cold front that dropped temperatures into the 50s. Cooler temperatures and gusty winds behind the front are expected to produce wind chills in the mid 40s to 50 degrees inland Monday evening, forecasters said. Over the next week, the blob of cool air will continue to drop overnight temperatures into the 40s and 50s at least through midweek.

Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.
Jenny Staletovich is a Florida native who covers the environment and hurricanes for the Miami Herald. She previously worked for the Palm Beach Post and graduated from Smith College.