Local News

Tornado Blows Through Downtown Miami

Posted May 12, 1997

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

No serious 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.

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.

Numerous minor injuries were reported.

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.

Anna Varela, who lives on Belle Isle, the island closest to Miami Beach on the Venetian Causeway, first saw the funnel cloud on television. ``And then it came through like a whirlpool,'' she said.

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.

By DAVID ROYSE,Associated Press Writer Copyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

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