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National Weather Service upgrades tornado to EF2 with peak winds of 130 mph

Agency accesses storm that struck Palm Beach Gardens, North Palm Beach
Posted at 3:13 PM, Apr 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-01 20:22:06-04

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — The tornado that tore through northern Palm Beach County on Saturday afternoon was upgraded from an EF1 to an EF2 with peak winds of 130 mph and lasting just 11 minutes, the National Weather Service in Miami said Sunday.

The path length was 2.6 miles and the width was 320 yards through Palm Beach Gardens and North Palm Beach.

The tornado started as an EF1 at 5:10 p.m. and strengthened to an EF2, ending at 5:21 p.m. An EF1 is peak winds of 86-110 mph and an EFS2 at 111-135. The EF2 is considered "strong" and EF1 "weak."

On the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, 130-156 mph is a Category 4 storm. In 2004, Hurricane Jean had a wider swath with highest wind 120 mph and Francis earlier was 145 mph.

In September, an EF2 tornado of 125 mph struck Kings Points west of Delray Beach, ripping off roofs. The Sept. 27 tornado was spawned by Hurricane Ian.

WPTV Chopper 5 got a bird's-eye view of the damage the day after Saturday's tornado.

Copper 5 gets bird's-eye view of tornado damage

At 5:10 p.m., the tornado began just east of Interstate 95 and moved northeast across A1A, passing just south of Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, the agency said. As it moved through the Sanctuary Cove Community, it turned more north-northeasterly, crossing PGA Boulevard near the intersection with U.S. 1.

After a short trek up U.S. 1, the tornado dissipated before reaching Juno Beach, according to the National Weather Service.

closeup of cars on top of each other in Palm Beach Gardens parking lot, April 29, 2023

News Photo Gallery

Pictures of storm damage in northern Palm Beach County

9:39 PM, Apr 29, 2023

According to the NWS report, "significant tree damages ranging from uprooted trees to snapped trunks were noted in this community."

At Sandalwood Estates off Burns Road, "quite a bit of trees was scattered throughout this community, with several large trees completely uprooted."

In the Rainwood community, a home had broken windows and many shingles removed.

At Prosperity Farms Road, the tornado entered the Sanctuary Cove community.

"Some of the most substantial structural damage was noted here with collapsed roofs, broken windows and removed roofing material," the NWS said.

The EF2 tornado crossed the North Palm Beach Waterway, where it destroyed a manufactured home along the canal's bank.

Palm Beach County tornado leaves path of destruction in its wake

As the tornado moved, it crossed into the Point at Palm Beach Gardens, where it created minor structural damage with "cars displaced, flipped and stacked on each other."

It crossed PGA Boulevard, where it destroyed a dry cleaner business, collapsed large poles and caused a concrete electrical pole to lean.

The last notable damage as an EF2 was when it crossed U.S. 1 and caused two cars to be flipped over.

The tornado "quickly lifted after crossing U.S. 1 where it caused minor tree damage in a shopping center," the NWS said.