Storm survey teams from the National Weather Service confirmed the touchdown of a tornado in West Broward Wednesday, a day after it ripped through and damaged several homes.
Brad Diehl, an NWS meteorologist, confirmed it was a moderate tornado, a 2 on the Enhanced Fujita Tornado Damage Scale. The weather service said the tornado had maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour and the tornado was 125 yards wide and its path was 1.11 miles long.
Residents in one Sunrise neighborhood woke up to debris-strewn lawns after the storm hit shortly after 10 p.m. in the area of Northwest 8th Street and 133rd Avenue, according to fire department officials.
Officials said up to 50 homes were damaged or destroyed in the area, and residents said one house was knocked to the ground. Trees were uprooted, roofs ripped off homes and at least a couple people suffered minor injuries.
As of Wednesday afternoon, some 690 homes in Miami-Dade and 570 in Broward were without power, according to FPL.
"The tornado just went right through, right through the house. It's basically knocked down everywhere," said Alec Katz. "People's fences are on top of roofs, everything, It's crazy."
Residents said the frightening storm caused major damage in the short time it was in the area.
"It lasted about 30 to 40 seconds, it was really, really strong and it sounded like a train heading into toward the side of the house," said resident Ivan Burgos. "Cars are all over the place, landscaping's all torn up, there's one house that's almost completely demolished."
Sunrise Fire Rescue's Jim Dixon said the storm affected an area of about a quarter of a mile, inflicting severe structural damage on at least six homes and displacing some residents.
"Luckily, as bad as this could have been, we've had no serious injuries, everyone seems to have gotten out safely," Dixon said.
Most of the displaced residents had somewhere else to go, but the Red Cross was at the scene to assist, Dixon said.
Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan said it was amazing how people had come together to help each out after the tornado.
"It was a poerful ferocious tornado. Honestly, it's a miracle in Sunrise, it really is, that no one was killed," Ryan said.
One of those displaced was a 70-year-old man who had the roof of his house completely torn off.
Neighbors said the man had just sat down to dinner when the tornado rolled through.
"Everything started blowing up, the lights went off and it was a little scary," said Ameen Kader, who lives next door to the man. "I ran to the house, he was ok, but look at the roof, there's nothing left on the house, just the frame."
Kader said the man was fine and was staying with friends.
In Plantation, police at a command post in the area said a trailer park at Broward Boulevard and Commodore Drive was hit hard by the storm.
"There are police everywhere and firemen knocking on people's doors," said Munica Herron, who lives across the street from the trailer park. "There are trailers that are caved in and blown out windows."
South Florida has been dealing with rain since Sunday, and it's expected to continue until the end of the week.
In the lower Florida Keys, a flood warning was issued until 9:45 a.m. Wednesday, while Monroe County Schools announced they'd be closed due to the severe weather.