Strong thunderstorms from Hurricane Irma’s approaching bands spawned a tornado that destroyed six mobile homes Sunday morning in the Turkey Creek area of Palm Bay, police reported.
There were no injuries, said Lt. Mike Bandish, spokesman for the Palm Bay Police Department. He added, however, that there was a 93-year-old man who remained behind in one of the damaged mobile homes, refusing to leave his property.
“Our officers were out there trying to convince him to leave but he wouldn’t,” Bandish told FLORIDA TODAY.
The mobiles homes were destroyed shortly after the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning. Several warnings blared out on cellphones and weather radios throughout the morning as Irma’s powerful storms spun through the south Brevard County area.
As Hurricane Irma began to affect the Space Coast, a resultant tornado touched down near a trailer park off Indian River Drive around 11:15 a.m. The National Weather Service has not yet verified the strength the tornado.
All residents of the mobile home park except for the unidentified man were evacuated. Wood and other material lay scattered across yards and the nearby roadway.
The tornado was also one of several possible funnel clouds spotted across Brevard. Another one turned up in a social media post shared by Indialantic Mayor Dave Berkman. The photo, take by Indialantic Police Chief Mike Casey, shows the funnel cloud stretching downward against a backdrop of grey clouds. It was not immediately known if it touched down. There were reports of a tree down on a Jupiter Boulevard near the JoDaddy Golf Course.
Palm Bay, Micco and Sebastian are now under a tornado watch until 12:45 p.m., according to the National Weather Service in Melbourne. Palm Bay police officers - about two dozen of them - fanned out along U.S. 1 where several mobile home parks are located to search for other possible damage. They were also searching for any other residents to evacuate as Irma’s bands swept through. The winds are expected to intensify throughout the afternoon.
The region includes more than 100,000 residents.
Residebts were urged to take cover during the warnings. "The heavy rain and strong winds will continue as Hurricane Irma lifts north from the Florida Keys," the National Weather Service reported.
A tornado warning means that conditions indicate a tornado or funnel cloud may be in the affected area. Brevard County remains under a tornado watch until 12 p.m.
The weather service also reports that wind gusts of up to 45 mph will gradually give way to tropical winds. Tropical storm winds are expected to arrive in Brevard sometime around 2 p.m. and then spread toward the north end.
Check back for updates.