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'Very scary:' EF1 tornado leaves trail of damage in Martin County

Severe weather knocks down trees and power lines in Hobe Sound, cuts off access to Jupiter Island
Storm damage on Bridge Road in Hobe Sound on June 13, 2024.jpg
Posted at 12:02 PM, Jun 12, 2024

HOBE SOUND, Fla. — An EF1 tornado tore through parts of Martin County on Wednesday, downing trees and leaving a trail of damage behind.

The National Weather Service said the tornado hit Hobe Sound at 10:40 a.m., likely touching down just west of U.S. Highway 1 and continuing east along Bridge Road before crossing the St. Lucie River and into Jupiter Island.

The peak winds of the tornado were 85 to 95 mph and affected portions of the path, especially along Bridge Road before the Hobe Sound Bridge, where numerous ficus trees were toppled.

Tree removal crews on Thursday said seven of the at least 20 trees on Bridge Road fell onto the road. Crews worked until 1 a.m. to remove four of the trees and restore emergency access between Hobe Sound and the north end of Jupiter Island.

They still have three large trees to remove from the street.

Martin County Fire Rescue said it plans to reopen Bridge Road to Jupiter Island at some point on Thursday.

"It's obviously a severe inconvenience to have to deal with this. But it's one of those things — when you're talking about a storm and Mother Nature — you just never can predict when something like this is going to happen," said Cory Pippin with Martin County Fire Rescue. "All you can really do is react as quickly as you can and try to mitigate the damage and try to get the road open as quickly as you can."

Pippin said that, at first glance, it looked like there was no structural damage to the Hobe Sound Bridge to Jupiter Island.

Martin County Fire Rescue said the tornado also caused damage near a Winn-Dixie grocery store at 8867 Southeast Bridge Road in Hobe Sound.

WPTV news crew went to the Winn-Dixie and saw trees and signs down and the back window on one car smashed out.

“We came right down here to see all the damage," shared resident Jordan Lynds. "We saw pictures but it’s a lot different in person. A lot more damage than the pictures even show.”

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Storm damage at a Winn-Dixie, located at 8867 Southeast Bridge Road in Hobe Sound, on June 12, 2024.

Stacy Ritchey, who works at the Winn-Dixie, said it felt like a tornado ripped through the parking lot with carts flying and signs blowing.

"Branches down everywhere. Branches against some cars. All over the parking lot," Ritchey said. "Very scary."

WATCH: Storm damage outside Winn-Dixie in Hobe Sound

Severe weather tore through parts of Martin County on Wednesday, downing trees and leaving a trail of damage behind. Martin County Fire Rescue said a "possible tornado" impacted the area around a Winn-Dixie, located at located at 8867 Southeast Bridge Road in Hobe Sound.

Resident Dewayne Mincey recorded a dramatic video from inside his truck as the tornado roared through.

The force of the storm shook his vehicle and sent debris flying.

Martin County Fire Rescue said there are no reports of any injuries.

At one point, 37,000 people were without power, but that dropped to around 1,700 at approximately 2:15 p.m.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder spoke to WPTV journalist Kate Hussey live on WPTV NewsChannel 5, saying there's "widespread damage" in parts of the county.

"East on Bridge Road from Gomez, going over toward Jupiter Island, it's completely obliterated as far as trees down. Massive trees," Snyder said. "And then the island itself has been hit. The bridge is broken, ajar. We can't let any traffic go east and west."

WATCH: Martin County sheriff talks storm damage

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder talks storm damage in Hobe Sound

Our WPTV news crew also spotted power lines down outside Hobe Sound Elementary School.

Jennifer DeShazo, the chief communications officer for the Martin County School District, said severe weather knocked out power to the school.

There is summer camp at Hobe Sound Elementary School, but there were no reports of injuries.

Because of the storm, the district transferred students to Port Salerno Elementary School where parents could pick their kids up.

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Storm damage near Hobe Sound Elementary School on June 12, 2024.