HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - Officials said a small tornado briefly touched down in West Hialeah, as severe weather wreaked havoc in parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties and caused flight delays at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Hialeah Fire officials said the tornado touched down near 1800 West 76th St., Sunday night.
Even though it was small, officials said, it knocked down trees at a nearby park to the ground. The debris made it impossible to drive or even walk through the area where the cyclone hit.
“It’s a small little area, but what has gone through there, you can’t even drive a car [and] you can barely walk through there,” Hialeah Fire Capt. David Rodriguez said.
Officials said area homes suffered damage, but concluded that there was no major structural damage to any of the homes in the area.
An area resident posted photos of the damage to her home on Twitter. A canopy in her backyard could be seen knocked into a swimming pool.
Other residents also posted photos and videos of heavy rain and downed trees. A resident posted video of an overturned trailer near West 76th Street and 17th Avenue.
The National Weather Service sent out a storm survey crew to further investigate the reported tornado, Monday morning.
They confirmed a high-end EF-0 tornado did in fact touch down with approximately 85 mile per hour winds.
“It’s not all that uncommon, but still tornadoes are rare events in this particular system,” said Stephen Konarik with the NWS. “It’s pretty rare in that it was a pretty organized storm, not a very quick spin-up. The storm was fairly long-lasting across the county.”
Near where the tornado touched down, police closed off West 76th Street as crews worked on cleaning up debris.
Surveillance video at PT’s Showclub Miami captured gusty winds blowing what appeared to be a garbage bin.
Debris could also be seen crashing into a parked car.
The resident who posted photos of her home said the first thing she noticed was the howling wind.
“We started hearing a lot of wind noise, that was, like, a little abnormal,” she said, “and then our lights started flickering on and off, so we came over to the closet door.”
Other residents in the area were startled by the damaging storm.
“As I was going out, I saw that everything in the back was just being thrown around,” said Sergio Perez, who lives in the area. “I said to my wife, ‘That’s a tornado.'”
As of 10 p.m., Florida Power & Light reported 376 homes without power in Broward County and 377 homes in Miami-Dade.
Just after 11:20 p.m., 7News cameras captured more than a dozen FPL trucks at the scene, as crews removed downed trees and power lines. They worked to restore power to a two-block radius near where the tornado touched down.
“All of a sudden, I started hearing some crashing sounds, some wind, and I look outside, and I’m like, ‘I’ve seen hurricanes, but this is totally different,” Hialeah resident Chantil Sanchez said.
The area resident who posted photos of her home said she saw what she’s fairly certain was a funnel cloud.
“When I was standing there looking out, I saw what I think was a funnel started appearing on top of my barbecue over there,” she said.
Meanwhile, in a tweet sent Sunday night, FLL officials confirmed 163 flights had been delayed and five flights had been cancelled.
That announcement came about an hour after the National Weather Service in Miami issued the tornado warning for parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, just after 7:30 p.m. Meteorologists later said the radar indicated potential for a tornado in Miami Lakes, Hialeah and Opa-locka, but just after 8 p.m., that warning was cancelled.
“We came out afterwards and of course we saw the trail and the damages that occurred,” said Perez.
In addition to the tornado in West Hialeah, wind gusts of up to 49 mph were reported at North Perry Airport in Pembroke Pine, just after 8 p.m., and a strong storm pelted the coast near Pompano Beach and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea with heavy rain and possible hail.
As of Monday afternoon, no injuries had been reported.
FLL officials advised travelers to check their flight status before heading to the airport.
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