Weather Blog: Tornadoes pose danger in Florida

By Jamie Martin, Meteorologist
Last Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018, 9:37 AM EST

One of the most dangerous things a severe thunderstorm can produce is a tornado.

  • Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes
  • Florida had more tornado-related deaths than Texas, Kansas
  • Tornadoes can also form over water

Tornadoes are not usually associated with the “Sunshine State”, but from 1995-2014, Florida had more reported tornado-related deaths per year than Texas, Kansas and Louisiana with an average or four fatalities per year.

Over the same period, Florida ranks 4th nationally in the annual average number of tornadoes behind Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. and ties for 6th in tornado fatalities. When taking into account the annual number of tornadoes per square mile, Florida ranks 2nd behind Kansas.

A tornado is a violent column of rotating air that comes down from a thunderstorm to reach the ground. Florida tornadoes come in all shapes and sizes and occur year-round. Our tornadoes usually last less than 15 minutes, but they can cause significant damage as they travel along the ground. Some tornadoes can travel for many dozens of miles while other tornadoes may appear to skip above the ground for a few moments. If a funnel cloud is not touching the ground, it is NOT a tornado. Tornadoes can develop within very strong thunderstorms along sea breeze boundaries or squall lines ahead of frontal systems, but can also occur near the edge of tropical cyclones in rain bands which can extend over a 100 miles from the center of the tropical system.

Tornadoes can also form over the water, which are called waterspouts. Boaters and those on the beach need to quickly move away from them as they can easily flip over a vessel.

If these move onshore, that is why you should have your phone set up with the Spectrum News 13 App.

It can alert you to dangerous storms approaching your area whether you are at home or on the go.