Inspectors Survey Site of Tornado Damage in Fla. Panhandle

Inspectors were surveying damage in southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle on Monday from a tornado that destroyed at least seven homes but didn’t cause any reported injuries.

Investigators now believe that a storm system that moved across the area Sunday may have produced a tornado that intensified and weakened several times, touching down in various spots, said Jeff Garmon, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mobile, Ala.

Early reports from more than ten National Weather Service employees out in the field in four different teams were that the tornado was at least an EF1, the second lowest of six categories of tornadoes, Garmon said. The teams were expected to be in the field the rest of the day.

In Alabama, there were reports of the storm destroying three homes in the Dixie area in the southern part of the state, Garmon said.

Just over the border in Florida, meanwhile, four homes were destroyed in the area of Molino in Escambia County – the state’s westernmost county. A total of 60 homes, businesses and storage buildings were damaged to varying degrees, county spokeswoman Sonya Daniel said. That ranged from a few shingles missing to entire roofs. The Red Cross was in the area providing meals and other support on Monday.

The damage also extended to neighboring Santa Rosa County, where the roof of one home was taken off and a room of another home damaged, county spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka said Monday. Trees also fell on two cars.

At the height of the storm, about 5,000 homes in Molino and others areas in Escambia County lost electricity, but the vast majority were back on line by the evening. In neighboring Santa Rosa County, some 3,000 homes were without power Sunday night, but power had been restored by Monday morning.