NAPLES, Fla. — Multiple reports showed an that apparent tornado passed over Collier County on Sunday morning in the midst of the severe storm that blew through Southwest Florida.
People inside the Artesia neighborhood in South Naples saw a funnel form right in front of their houses, and they described to me feeling a mix of shock and fear.
“As we looked up, we saw circling debris as well as what appeared to be a funnel cloud,” said Tonya Johnson. “We just ran, drove straight for home for safety.”
Johnson and her 13-year-old son were coming home from breakfast when they saw the funnel cloud while driving on Barefoot Williams Road at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
When the winds started picked up, Artesia resident Ron Griszkauskas went outside to observe the weather. That’s when he witnessed the funnel cloud form.
“It formed right over lake,” Griszkauskas said of the funnel cloud he saw. “I thought it was just a water spout. That’s when started coming toward us, and that’s when ran in the house. I wasn’t taking any chances.”
The National Weather Service put out a severe thunderstorm warning at 8:54 this morning. A tornado warning was then issued just 12 minutes later.
At 9:37, Florida Highway Patrol reported a large tornado over Interstate-75 at mile marker 100. The winds overturned a semi truck that blocked two lanes of traffic.
While the tornado was brief, the people we talked to said that didn’t make it any less scary.
“I would say it lasted, gosh it seemed like forever, but probably just a couple of minutes,” Johnson said.
The high winds that came through knocked out power for thousands of people. Florida Power & Light reported that more than 2,500 customers lost power in Collier County, while more than 12,000 lost power in Lee County.