An apparent tornado that touched down in northern Broward County Wednesday morning overturned trucks, crashed cars and was blamed for the loss of electric power. Injuries were minor, according to initial reports by authorities.
First reports of the storm came at about 9:30 a.m. in the Broward College area and in the area of Florida’s Turnpike a few minutes after that, said Arlena Moses, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Miami.
“The threat is not over,” Moses said. “We’re looking at the threat of severe storms in that area throughout the day.”
Perhaps the most dramatic wind event: A passenger vehicle traveling south on Florida’s Turnpike was carried to the northbound lanes of the highway, Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Mark Wysocky said.
Florida Power Light Co. said 333 customers in Broward County were without power, but it was not immediately clear if those outages were all caused by the storm, a spokesman said.
Coconut Creek saw damage at an apartment complex and the campus of Broward College, near 1000 Coconut Creek Parkway.
In a college parking lot on the east side of the Health Sciences Center, six cars that had crashed into each other were damaged, Coconut Creek Police Sgt. Henry Cabrera said.
“No one was injured at this scene,” Cabrera said.
Students were briefly put on lockdown but classes had resumed by about 10 a.m., and he was waiting for tow trucks to arrive, Cabrera said.
Across the Parkway at the Wynmoor Village Retirement Community, Coconut Creek Sgt. Kathryn Markland said one person, a Wynmoor employee, had minor injuries.
“Many trees were uprooted, trees are on top of cars, bumpers were taken off, and there was damage to the clubhouse,” Markland said. “One building has some structural damage to the roof.”
Dan Booker, division chief of the combined Coconut Creek and Margate fire departments said of the storm, “[There was] a lot of chaos and the saving grace was it was raining really heavily before the tornado came through, and everybody had pretty much taken cover before it hit.”
Booker said the path of the storm began at the college, went west into the Wynmoor complex and then struck at the Turnpike.
At the Wynmoor community that Booker said has about 14,000 residents, “Red Cross is coming out for the people in the building with the roof removed, because they’re going to need sheltering,” he said.
Along the Turnpike, a tractor trailer was overturned in the southbound lanes, south of Sample Road, Broward Sheriff Fire Rescue spokesman Mike Jachles said.
“There is one patient, but no serious injuries,” Jachles said.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported the northbound lanes of the Turnpike remained open and at 11:30 a.m., two southbound lanes were open. A large tree fell across the Coconut Creek Parkway exit, causing delays until it is removed, Wysocky said.
“There were four crashes in the southbound lanes and two northbound,” Wysocky said. “Most were single vehicle crashes, meaning they hit a wall or overturned.”
Moses, the weather service meteorologist, said a warm front in the area favored the development of strong storms and tornadoes. The speed of the winds that caused so much damage was not yet known Wednesday morning, she said.
Ltrischitta@Tribune.com, 954-356-4233 or Twitter @LindaTrischitta