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National Weather Service releases preliminary damage survey

By Staff | Jan 11, 2016

One hundred and seventy-eight structures were damaged by the EF-2 tornado with winds topping 130 mph that blew through southwest Cape Coral early Saturday night, according to a preliminary damage assessment report issued by the National Weather Service late Sunday.

One home was destroyed and 14 suffered major damage, the report states, adding that the tornado ripped through a swath 3.4 miles long and 182 yards wide, also downing more than 100 power poles while incidentally tipping an unknown number of cars and boats and wrecking the bleachers and equipment at Pelican Park.

The area affected is to the north, Cape Coral Parkway to the south, Pelican Boulevard to the east, and Sands Boulevard to the west.

No deaths were reported. There were three injuries, according to the report.

The storm started late Saturday afternoon with a low pressure system just offshore of Mobile, Alabama, with a warm front that extended into central Florida, according to the National Weather Service.

“The Fort Myers area was in the warm sector of the system with warm…moist…and unstable air that interacted with an upper level disturbance that brought the storms in from the Gulf of Mexico,” the report states.

The tornado touched down at about 6:45 p.m. with winds peaking at 132 mph, the equivalent to those found in a Category 3 hurricane.

The Cape Coral Fire Department put more than 100 personnel on the ground to go door to door to do damage assessments and welfare checks. Cape Coral Police Department put additional 30 officers on the road.

An estimated 2,000 customers were initially without power.

As of late Monday afternoon, LCEC had restored power to all but just over 150.

“Crews will keep working until the last customer is restored,” a release from the electric cooperative issued Monday afternoon states. “Restoration is typically slower toward the end because each repair only serves a few customers. We anticipate all will be restored sometime this evening.”