May 13, 1997 in Nation/World

Tornado Snakes Through Miami Windows Smashed, Trees Uprooted As Twister Plows Through Urban Area

David Royse Associated Press
 

A tornado steamed past Miami’s high-rise condominiumsin the middle of the day Monday, smashing windows and sending terrified city-dwellers in the path of the funnel cloud scrambling for cover.

Numerous minor injuries were reported.

“I could have been killed,” said Luis Jaramillo, who had a close call with a 4-by-6 piece of wood. “I guess it wasn’t my time to go.”

The storm, which touched down shortly before 2 p.m., uprooted trees, hurled branches and other debris and shattered the glass facades of several structures, including a new three-story building downtown.

Several local television stations captured spectacular footage of the funnel cloud as it blew through downtown and then tracked the shore past condo towers and across the causeways on Biscayne Bay.

In Little Havana, the roof of a three-story building collapsed on a woman living on the top floor. Her condition was not immediately known.

The tornado touched down on the MacArthur Causeway to the south and brought busy midday traffic to a halt.

“We thought it was going to hit us,” said Joseph McCrea, a toll collector at the Venetian Causeway, which leads to Miami Beach.

McCrea watched the storm rip trees out of the ground and set off small explosions as it tore down power lines.

The storm touched down along Miami’s Coral Way and went east five or six miles toward the Miami Arena “until it got smaller and suddenly it was gone out over the bay,” said police spokesman Delrish Moss.

The city’s biggest problem was expected to be accidents caused by lost traffic signs.

An American Airlines jet flying into Miami International Airport hit severe turbulence because of the tornado, injuring two passengers and five flight attendants.


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