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North River Shores community shaken after EF0 tornado causes minor damage

Tornado traveled for 8 miles before ending in North River Shores, NWS report says
Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 18:53:09-05

STUART, Fla. — The community of North River Shores in Stuart is cleaning up after an EF0 tornado ripped through, taking with it trees, lawn furniture, parts of fences and more.

WPTV was at the intersection of Northwest Lake Point and Northwest Pine Lake Drive Monday night soon after the confirmed tornado passed through, knocking over three large ficus trees onto power lines.

The trees knocked out power and sparked a small fire, which Martin County Fire Rescue soon put out.

Power was restored to residents by 3 a.m. Tuesday, but much of the damage still remained throughout the day.

Ken Shamon North River Shores resident tornado damage 01162024
Resident Ken Shamon explains how Monday's storm was unprecedented.

"Completely gone. Nothing, just, right out of the ground. Nothing left to them," Ken Shamon, who owns the downed trees, said. "They're big trees, they’ve been there, I think, my wife said about 25 years."

The trees were no match for the swirling tornado, which the National Weather Service said sustained winds around 70 mph. When they fell, they came just feet from hitting Shamon's home.

"I've lived in Florida for 35 years, to have it happen in front of my own yard, it's like, you see it everywhere else and you say, 'Oh, a tornado came through,'" he said. "But when you see it happen to yourself, it’s a little different."

The tornado is one of two the NWS said formed during Monday night's severe weather and it came on quickly.

It knocked trees onto Shamon's boat, and WPTV saw shingles ripped off roofs, mailboxes upended and an RV flipped upside down on Northwest 16th Street.

Will Ulrich warning coordination meteorologist with NWS 01162024
National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist Will Ulrich explians how far the EF0 traveled and the damage it caused.

"Creating intermittent damage along that path from about I-95 to where we’re standing today," Will Ulrich, warning coordination meteorologist with NWS, said as he stood in front of Shamon's home.

Ulrich said the tornado traveled for about eight miles before it dissipated and caused minor damage in Palm City and North River Shores.

"It sounded like a train, and I was actually in an inside closet in my bedroom," Shamon said.

Across the street, Dave Onufrey cleaned up fallen branches and debris in his own yard.

"That's going to be a several day job," Onufrey said.

He considers himself lucky. He showed WPTV's Kate Hussey the path of havoc the tornado left as it passed right by his home, somehow taking only his lawn furniture with it.

Resident Dave Onufrey cleaning up in North River Shores 01162024.png
Resident Dave Onufrey cleaning up downed trees in the North River Shores community in Stuart, Florida on Jan. 16, 2024.

"It came through right there," Onufrey said, pointing to fallen trees on the outskirts of his home. "It kind of knocked this tree over a little bit, went straight up the side of the house and across the street."

Barbara Osbourne said she saw the tornado go over her house Monday night.

"We knew it was coming because we were watching Steve Weagle from start to finish. Five o'clock on," Osbourne said.

She said she called her son, who lives in Jensen Beach, to warn him it was coming his way. Luckily, she and her son escaped the whirling wake without much damage.

Barbara Osbourne North River Shores resident 01162024
Barbara Osbourne describes how the tornado looked as it passed her home.

"It was swaying around like one of those balloon guys outside of a car dealership," Osbourne said. "It flipped our pool furniture."

Glenn Harte's front tree didn't make out so well. It succumbed to the storm's ferocious force.

"You can actually see where it cracked in half," Harte said, pointing to the massive, split tree. "Right there."

Harte said he wasn't home at the time of the storm, and was thankful he wasn't, telling WPTV's Kate Hussey the tree landed right where he normally parks his truck.

He said he was planning on getting the part of the tree hanging over his home trimmed just before the storm, but said Mother Nature did it for him.

Glenn Harte North River Shores resident 01162024
Glenn Harte shares that he is grateful no one was hurt in the storm and his home made out OK.

"But nobody got hurt, the house didn't get hurt, so now it’s just cleanup, and that's fine by me," Harte said.

As all the residents of North River Shores continue picking up the pieces, the fear from the night before is starting to fade. They noticed storm clouds again shaping and they fear Mother Nature is back for more.

"That’s all coming through this area again today, oh, God," Shamon said. "Never had fear before and now it's like- geez. Hope when it comes through we don't get any more damage."

All neighbors said the worst of their damage was a downed fence or tree, and Ulrich confirmed the same thing.

Neighbors said they were spending the rest of the day securing their homes and preparing for more weather Tuesday night.