That same line of storms moved east, passing the Ocala National Forest and Orlando before breaking into a string of several rotating supercell thunderstorms near Interstate 4.
At 10:49 a.m., the same supercell thunderstorm prompted a tornado warning as it passed southwest of Daytona Beach near DeLand. Over the next 90 minutes, seven more tornado warnings followed as three main storms spawned confirmed tornadoes along the Space Coast.
A tornado was caught on camera from the Boombah Sports Complex, less than a mile to the southeast of Orlando Sanford International Airport.
In the video, a classic supercell thunderstorm structure is visible, with the tornado hanging from a rotating lowering known as a “wall cloud” attached to the rain-free base of the storm. Late in the video, the storm’s downdraft of heavy rain and wind sweeps over the sporting complex.
“At 11:47 a.m. EDT, a tornado producing storm was located over Lake Jessup, moving east at 40 mph,” wrote the National Weather Service in a warning.
The tornado continued toward Maytown and Scottsmoor. It’s unclear whether the tornado reached Interstate 95.
To the northeast, a storm developed a “bounded weak echo region” appearing as a doughnut hole on radar as it exited Florida’s east coast over the Atlantic. That signature void on radar forms only when a strong updraft, often accompanied by a tornado, prevents rain from falling. A very large and powerful tornadic waterspout was probably present offshore at the time.
Meanwhile, an additional supercell thunderstorm — with its telltale “hook echo” swirl appearance on radar — strengthened near Titusville, prompting a tornado warning for portions of northwestern Brevard County.
Initial radar data suggest strong rotation passed within a half-mile of the Kennedy Space Center, if not directly overhead. It was unclear whether a tornado touched down.
An employee at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex said he was unaware of any touchdowns or damage at the facilities, which includes launchpads and facilities where SpaceX operates, among other private sector space companies.
“The Kennedy Space Center has not experienced any [tornado] activity on center as a result of this weather system,” wrote NASA spokesman Gregory B. Harland.
The storms that prompted tornado warnings exited the coastline by 1 p.m., although additional severe thunderstorms with embedded rotation were rumbling southeast of Tampa during the early afternoon.
Tornadoes in Florida aren’t rare. In fact, the state sees a high number of tornadoes, owing partly to weak waterspouts that come ashore and dissipate shortly after hitting land, which inflates the numbers somewhat. Other tornadoes, generally EF0s or EF1s, often form from afternoon thunderstorms or even tropical cyclones. Seeing bona fide supercell tornadoes is somewhat atypical.
Supercell thunderstorms produced downbursts and weak tornadoes in Southeast Florida on April 10, 2018. The same storms dropped three-inch hail in St. Augustine.
Monday’s storms in Florida stemmed from a cold front that brought severe weather, including damaging winds and a couple of tornadoes, to a broad stretch of the south. Winds as high as 100 mph impacted southeastern Alabama.