Tropical Storm Nestor Leaves Path of Damage in Florida Panhandle

Tropical Storm Nestor spawned a string of tornadoes that damaged homes, uprooted trees and overturned vehicles as it moved inland over the Florida Panhandle from the Gulf of Mexico on Friday before it was expected to head to the North Carolina coast, forecasters said.

The outer bands of the tropical storm wreaked havoc in Florida late Friday as it approached. Strong winds extended 175 miles outward from the storm’s center with sustained winds nearing 60 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center said.

In Polk County, Fla., a tornado overturned an 18-wheel vehicle onto a sport utility vehicle on Friday night. The occupants of both vehicles reportedly escaped injury, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

Another tornado, with winds of nearly 100 m.p.h., touched down in Lee County, Fla., on Saturday morning, damaging at least a dozen homes.

Photos and videos on social media showed a roof torn off a middle school, fallen power lines and vehicles damaged by uprooted trees. There was no immediate word on injuries, and damage estimates were not available on Saturday.

By 11 a.m. on Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said the storm had been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone. Still, forecasters warned of life-threatening storm surges of up to four feet along the Florida Gulf Coast, and strong winds, tornadoes and isolated flash flooding across the southeastern United States.

The storm left some roads flooded and officials said it was expected to produce two to four inches of rain this weekend across the southeastern United States, with isolated amounts of up to eight inches.

The storm produced beach hazards along the Gulf Coast on Saturday, according to officials, who warned swimmers of dangerous rip currents, high surf and coastal flooding.

Tallahassee officials encouraged residents to report power failures and blocked roads.

“While impacts may be less than anticipated, any impact close to home matters,” the city said on Twitter on Saturday.