'Gustnado' likely hit Port St. Lucie, WPTV First Alert Weather meteorologist says

Straight line winds damage dozens of homes, National Weather Service reports
Port St. Lucie storm damage on June 10, 2022 (2).jpg
Posted at 12:53 PM, Jun 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-10 17:05:48-04

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — A "gustnado" likely hit parts of Port St. Lucie on Thursday, damaging dozens of homes, according to WPTV First Alert Weather forecasters.

The National Weather Service said Friday that "straight line winds coming out of a thunderstorm" caused significant damage to at least a dozen homes in the Spanish Lakes Golf Village, located in the 100 block of west Caribbean.

About 100 homes sustained light damage.

Port St. Lucie storm damage on June 10, 2022 (1).jpg
Port St. Lucie storm damage on June 10, 2022.

"You get this big burst of air that comes down. And it comes out in all directions really, really fast," WPTV First Alert Weather Meteorologist James Wieland said. "The Weather Service saying up to 60-mile-per-hour winds happened with this particular storm."

Wieland said winds that strong define a severe thunderstorm, and what residents likely experienced on Thursday was a "gustnado."

"What we call these are gustnadoes," Wieland said. "A gustnado is usually weak rotation. Not weak winds, but weak rotation that kinda just gets spun up."

Port St. Lucie storm damage on June 10, 2022.jpg
Port St. Lucie storm damage on June 10, 2022.

While the NWS did issue a severe thunderstorm warning for Port St. Lucie around 3:40 p.m. Thursday, some are wondering why the alert wasn't upgraded to a tornado warning.

Wieland explained the difference, saying that for a severe thunderstorm warning to be issued, there needs to be hail one inch or larger and/or winds equal to or exceeding 58 miles per hour.

"A severe thunderstorm can and do produce tornadoes with little or no warning," Wieland said. "Warning is they key thing. When you hear the warning, that mean it's imminent. It's happening right now."

For a tornado warning, you need to have strong rotating winds indicated by Doppler radar or sighted by a spotter.

"A tornado warning is usually not issued when you get these things because it's more of the straight line winds that are causing all that damage," Wieland said.

WATCH: Difference between severe thunderstorm warning, tornado warning:

WPTV First Alert Weather Meteorologist James Wieland explains weather warnings

The St. Lucie Fire Rescue District said at least one person was taken to the hospital after being injured while cleaning up after Thursday's storm.

Neighbors said those displaced from their homes had to stay in the community's clubhouse. The Salvation Army is also setting up at the clubhouse, providing food and beverages to those in need.

"A lot of them are a little bit overwhelmed and they're taking it pretty good, but they're upset," said Gary Blackmon with the Salvation Army. "They're glad that to see us here and providing some food and relief to them."

SPECIAL COVERAGE: WPTV First Alert Weather Forecast

Wieland said more thunderstorms are in the forecast Friday, starting in the afternoon and eventually clearing out by 8 p.m.

"Any Friday night plans looking much better than the early bird special," Wieland said.

WATCH: Latest WPTV First Alert Weather forecast:

First Alert Weather Forecast for Afternoon of Friday, June 10, 2022

"This is like an image out of 'Twister.' It's just carnage," said Brian Burgess, who helped his mother move out of her condemned Spanish Lakes Golf Village home Friday.

Cleanup is underway in community. Burgess is helping his mother vacate her home after Thursday's storms left pieces of her property scattered throughout the neighborhood.

"It's gone, it's all gone," Burgess said. "Half of this isn't going to be able to be saved."

Burgess' mother plans to move in with her daughter, salvaging whatever they can.

"It's not fixable. This house is going to have to be ripped down and completely rebuilt from the beginning," Burgess said.

The home is just one of many deemed unsafe to live in.

"What's left of our ceiling, I put tarps up just to try to keep some of the water out," said Harry Fava, whose home was also condemned, after only moving in April. "We survived. If we would've been out on the porch, we wouldn't be here."

Fava and his wife are working to put their belongings into storage, thanks to the help of friends and neighbors.

"I'm just trying to do one day at a time," Fava said. "I'm just glad to be alive."