Meteorologists predicted severe weather for early Sunday morning, but there weren't any signs during this beautiful sunset at Myakka River State Park last night. Then, 9 hours later, I was awakened by a weather alert on my cell phone: tornado warning! Sarasota was in the direct path of at least two tornadoes as a dangerous line of thunderstorms rolled ashore from the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the night.
Severe structural damage is being reported on Siesta Key (south of downtown Sarasota). Somehow, the storm just grazed the Sarasota city limits, with initial damage reports showing only downed power lines and trees. Minutes before landfall, the weather radar indicated a possible direct hit on downtown Sarasota by an EF-2 tornado with wind speeds up to135 mph. Thankfully, that didn't happen. Amazingly, no one was killed or seriously hurt in Sarasota County. Unfortunately, though, when a second line of storms cut through the area a short time later, two people were killed in Manatee County just to the north.
All's well (albeit busy) in the SDP world. We didn't even experience wind gusts at the SDP Headquarters. My tremendous respect for Mother Nature continues.