Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Tornado - or 'really bad wind' - hits Cocoa Beach

The Windrush condos in Cocoa Beach are on the left, and the Diplomat condos are to the right, out of the photo. News reporters say the roof blew off the Diplomat and smashed into the Windrush building. The ocean is just beyond the large building in the background.

I got up this morning, and it was raining so hard that the downpours sounded like waves crashing onto the beach.

It was my day off, so I decided to take it easy and watch a movie.

When I finished the movie, I turned on the local news. The weather man was talking about a possible tornado that touched down in Cocoa Beach, just north of my place in Melbourne. Cocoa Beach is also where I lived for two months when I first moved to Florida. I've mapped it out below.

View Larger Map

I was bored, and it wasn't raining anymore, so I headed out.

Route A1A runs along the ocean and is the main road in Cocoa Beach. The storm supposedly tracked parallel to the road, so that's the route I took to the scene.

The road looked as it usually does after a thunderstorm. The sides of the highway were flooded. In some cases, there was water on the road that made me switch lanes to avoid it. But that's nothing unusual.

When I reached the main part of Cocoa Beach, where the big surf shops such as Ron Jon's are located, traffic got bad. I finally got to the Diplomat and the ironically named Windrush condos, where most of the damage happened.

People were gawking, but the damage wasn't that bad. Apparently a roof got ripped off one building, and it crashed into another. I saw a real photographer from FLORIDA TODAY at the scene. "I'm from Missouri, so this is nothing," she said.

For her photos and some others from FLORIDA TODAY, go here.

The weather men are saying now that it could have been an F0 or F1 twister. Or maybe it was just "really bad wind," such as a wind burst, one forecaster said.

Anyway, here are some of the shots I took. I'm only an amateur, so I couldn't get close to the real action. I didn't want to bother the emergency workers anyway (no one was injured, by the way). It makes me want to buy a telephoto lens, though.

Bringing in the ladder truck.

Firefighters trying to clean up and fix Windrush.

Firefighters were laying down tarps to cover the hole in the roof of the Diplomat.


TV crews were all over the place, with a chopper (upper right) in the sky, too.

This is a boardwalk onto the beach near Patrick Air Force Base, just south of Cocoa Beach.

The surf was wild.

The skies were dark.

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