Strong storms move out of SWFL; wind speeds to increase

A line of strong storms that brought heavy rain and gusty winds are moving out of Southwest Florida.

The NOAA National Weather Service issued coastal flooding and severe thunderstorm warnings at noon. Watch for high surf along the coast.

There were reports of a couple tornados touching down in Central Florida. SWFL has also seen several tornado warnings which have since expired.

It’s a good idea to bring in any outdoor holiday decorations that are not tightly tied down as strong winds will increase into Friday.

After the storm moves through, winds sustained at 20-25 mph is expected, with gusts to 40-50 mph tomorrow.

EFFECTS OF WIND

Bridges close when sustained winds reach 40 mph.

High winds could cause power outages. You can check the status on an outage map here: Florida Power & Light | Lee County Electric Cooperative

Flights could be affected by high winds. Check the arrivals and departures from Southwest Florida International (RSW) and Punta Gorda (PDG) airports before heading out.

HEAVY RAIN AND CHOPPY WAVES STORM MARCO ISLAND

Large waves have been crashing along Marco Island Thursday. The Gulf is typically calmer than the Atlantic Ocean, but today the choppy waves have things looking much different.

“You just have to see how it goes,” Keith Defever said, a Marco Island resident. “It’s never anything to really worry about you know.”

Defever did not let the storm stop him from walking along Marco Beach.

“It’s nothing,” Keith Defever said. “It’s fun to watch. It’s a little different. The sand hurts a little bit when you get pelted by it, but that’s about the worst of it.”

For Marco Island visitors, they are trying to make the most of their vacation as the storm moves through bringing more rain, wind and waves.

“We’re used to different weather in Minnesota,” Julie Kraus said, a Marco Beach visitor. “This is great. It’s warm.”

“We get hail and tornadoes — that you got to worry about,” Douglass Willaby said, a Marco Beach visitor. “But rain, I guess we don’t know if you get hail here or not, I assume not so.”

Homeowners who live in Marco Beach full time, like Barbra Prigge, know what to expect. Prigge knows how quickly a storm can get bad, so they took every precaution with their outdoor furniture and decorations.

“It’s scary,” Barbra Prigge said, a Marco resident. “We’re going to take some of the animated stuff in because you know we can’t replace it and years to come we still want to have it.”

Some said it is too late.

“We’re kinda taking this too lightly,” Joe Spalla said, a Marco resident. “Everyone from what I see, there’s no one putting storm shutters up and I got a feeling that they’re hoping it blows over.”

STORM DAMAGE IN CHARLOTTE COUNTY

Strong wind brought down fences in Port Charlotte Thursday.

Homeowners are assessing storm damage coming home from work and now that the majority of heavy rain has left.

TRAMPOLINE PROPELS ON TOP OF A CAPE CORAL HOME

Fierce weather hit Cape Coral Thursday, leaving damages in the street and debris scattered around — there is even a trampoline on top of a house!

But, crews just removed the trampoline from the side of the house.

Earlier, the wind picked it up and carried it across the street and over the power line before it finally hit the side of the house and got tangled in a power line.

And this is just one example of what we have seen across Cape Coral and North Fort Myers Thursday. The wind flattened carports and fences. It even ripped the roof off of one home altogether.

“Wow, I was shocked,” Honey Leavitt said, a neighbor. “I looked out and I got the mail and I said, ‘hmm, what’s going on here?’ I mean it could have come to my house. Who knew? It’s a little scary.”

The people who live at the home that had the trampoline ornament are out of town. But neighbors said they have called them to let them know what happened.

Crews said the damage to the house is only minor.

BIG WAVES IN MARCO ISLAND 

Boaters prepared for large surf after the major storm effects left Marco Island Thursday.

Many boaters and beachgoers were not worried about the weather conditions and found enjoyment getting to watch the weather event take place.

“It’s nothing,” Keith Defever said. “It’s fun to watch. It’s a little different. The sand hurts a little bit when you get pelted by it, but that’s about the worst of it.”

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