National Weather Service upgrades tornado to EF2 with peak winds of 130 mph

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The tornado that tore through northern Palm Beach County Saturday afternoon has been upgraded from EF1 to EF2 with peak winds of 130 mph and lasting just 11 minutes, the National Weather Service in Miami said Sunday.

The course was 2.6 miles long and 320 yards wide through Palm Beach Gardens and North Palm Beach.

The tornado began as an EF1 at 5:10 PM and strengthened to an EF2, ending at 5:21 PM. EF1 is peak winds of 86-110 mph and EFS2 is at 111-135. EF2 is considered “strong” and EF1 is “weak”.

On the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, it has wind speeds of 130-156 mph and is a Category 4 storm. In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne had a wider swath with winds of 120 mph and Frances had previously had winds of 145 mph.

In September, an EF2 tornado with wind speeds of 125 mph struck Kings Points west of Delray Beach, ripping off roofs. The September 27 tornado was caused by Hurricane Ian.

WPTV Chopper 5 got a comprehensive look at the damage the day after Saturday’s tornado.

Copper 5 gets a comprehensive view of tornado damage

At 5:10 p.m., the tornado began just east of Interstate 95 and moved northeast across A1A, passing just south of Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, the agency said. As it moved through the Sanctuary Cove community, it headed north-northeast, crossing PGA Street near the intersection with US 1.

After a short trip up U.S. 1, the tornado dissipated before reaching Juno Beach, according to the National Weather Service.

News photo gallery

Photos of storm damage in northern Palm Beach County

April 29, 2023 at 9:39 pm

According to the NWS report, “Substantial tree damage ranging from uprooted trees to severed logs was observed in this community.”

At Sandalwood Estates off Burns Road, “there were quite a few trees scattered throughout this community, with several large trees completely uprooted.”

In the Renwood community, one home had its windows broken and several shingles removed.

On Prosperity Farms Road, the tornado entered the community of Sanctuary Cove.

“Some significant structural damage was observed here, with collapsed ceilings, broken windows and removal of roof materials,” the weather service said.

An EF2 tornado crossed the North Palm Beach Waterway, destroying a manufactured home along the canal bank.

Palm Beach County tornado leaves a path of destruction in its wake

As the tornado moved, it crossed into the point in Palm Beach Gardens, where it caused minor structural damage with cars “dislodged, overturned, and piled on top of each other.”

It crossed PGA Street, where a dry cleaning business was destroyed, large poles collapsed and a concrete electric pole leaned.

The last notable EF2 damage was when it crossed US 1 and caused two cars to roll over.

The tornado “quickly disappeared after crossing U.S. 1, where it caused minor tree damage at a shopping center,” the weather service said.

(tags for translation) EF2 tornado

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