STARKE, Fla. – A neighborhood in Starke was cleaning up Thursday after a tornado tore through the area Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
An NWS storm surveyor in Bradford County told News4JAX that it was an EF-1 tornado.
According to the NWS, the tornado occurred about 5:20 p.m. Wednesday, starting just east of Highway 301 and moving toward the southern part of the Shands Starke Regional Medical Center. The NWS said the tornado’s peak winds reached 95 mph. The NWS said the path length was 0.55 miles and the maximum path width was 200 yards.
A Tornado occurred last evening in Starke FL around 5:20 PM. Here are the results from a damage survey conducted this morning. 🌪️🔎— NWS Jacksonville (@NWSJacksonville) December 9, 2021
🌪️ Rating - EF 1
🌬️ Peak Wind - 95 MPH
📏 Path Length - 0.55 miles
📏 Path Max Width - 200 yards
⛑️ NO INJURIES pic.twitter.com/EaLF8RkXpn
Neighbors said there wasn’t much notice. Starke resident Vicki Bache said she would normally get an alert on her phone about severe weather but didn’t get one Thursday.
“It was just terrifying. We had no idea,” she said.
Neighbors said that at the time, it just seemed like a bad thunderstorm and then they started hearing trees falling and debris crashing up against their homes. Bache said that she felt her house shaking and that parts of a tree went through her window.
“With all the pressure that was inside the house and the cracking and the electricity and seeing and hearing trees breaking down and something coming through the bathroom window, it had to be a tornado,” Bache said. “These great big orange barrels that are used to barricade the road are in my backyard, so I don’t know how they got there.”
Meteorologists with NWS said they issued a severe warning, saying there was a possibility of spin in the lower atmosphere.
“The storms were really laced with good spin but didn’t have a lot of potential for growth,” said NWS Jacksonville Meteorologist In Charge Scott Cordeo. “So if we had more heating yesterday, the situation would have been more widespread across Northeast Florida. Fortunately for us, we had ample cloud cover ahead of the storm — which kind of precluded larger development of the storm.”
Most of the damage could be seen Thursday on East Laura Street, where sheet metal was lifted from the roof of a home and tree limbs were snapped. There was also a tree on top of another house.
News4JAX spoke with Bruce Perry, who came out Thursday morning to help clean up the mess. He said he didn’t expect Wednesday’s storm to leave this amount of damage.
“First, it was raining. Then all of sudden we see that wind coming by and my boss said, ‘Get in the bathroom, get in the middle of the house.’ And before you know it, it was blowing so hard, it had to be a tornado or something that touched down,” Perry said. “Thank God we’re still here.”
City crews were also cleaning up broken tree limbs in people’s yards and loading them into trailers throughout the day. Meanwhile, the American Red Cross was speaking with families and offering their assistance.
The NWS did it survey about 5 a.m. Thursday and reported only three homes were damaged. According to the NWS, each of the homes has insurance.
The Starke Police Department posted Wednesday evening on Facebook that damage and debris was left behind following the storm.
Emergency vehicles were sent to a residential area between Cherry Street and Colley Road. On Wednesday night, blocks of homes in the area were completely dark due to downed power lines, trees and branches.
According to the Starke Police Department and the NWS, no injuries were reported.