Two people were killed and four children were hospitalized after a tornado toppled a mobile home in Manatee County, one of three counties with reports of tornadoes overnight Sunday.


At about 3:45 a.m. in Manatee County, a 911 call reported a structure collapse on Albritton Road in Duette. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office said two people were killed and an adult male and four children were  injured when the mobile home collapsed.

"It actually removed the mobile home from its foundation, concrete block foundation and rolled int he direction towards the street. You can see the devastation there in the street," said Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube.

Deputies said Steven Wilson, 58, was pronounced dead at the scene and Katie Wilson, 51, was pronounced dead at a hospital after she suffered a heart attack.

"She kept saying she couldn't breathe. She kept trying to get up and we kept telling her to just lay still. I kept telling her. I said Katie lay still. And then she died," said neighbor Sharon Barnhill.

The Sheriff's Office said their son 38-year-old Stephen M. Wilson, and his four children, two girls and two boys ages 6-10, were in the home at the time and all managed to crawl out of the debris.  Deputies said the two girls  are in serious condition and Wilson and the two boys are in stable condition.  All injuries are believed to be non-life threatening the Sheriff's Office said.

The tornado passed over Albritton Road just before 4 a.m.

Tornado leaves path of destruction in Siesta Key

Minutes later, another twister struck near the beach community of Siesta Key in Sarasota County causing widespread damage to homes, cars and property.

A two-story home at the end of Baywind Lane was all but demolished by the storm. The second story collapsed and the home was a tangled mess of wood, metal and glass. Two people had to be rescued from under the rubbled by Sarasota County Fire Rescue -- but authorities say they only suffered minor injuries.

Siesta Key is a barrier island known for its pricey condos and wide, gorgeous beaches. On Sunday morning, about 17,000 residents in the area were without power, the Sarasota County Emergency Management office said on its Facebook page.Michelle Pellet was in her bed asleep next her husband Jean-Pierre when she was woken up by a loud sound.

"I heard a huge boom and my window in my bedroom crashed in," she said. "We were just lucky it didn't come on the bed."

But when Jean-Pierre showed me the damage inside his own, we discovered there was some glass on his bed -- right between the pillows, between where they slept.

"I didn't see that before," he said.

Though the Pellets and their neighbors have days of clean-up ahead -- they feel lucky. No one was seriously injured or killed -- and Jean-Pierre even has a theory as to why their street was chosen.

"My street is Baywind Lane and I think the wind say, 'hey that is my street' and he come here and take it with him," Jean-Pierre said, with a laugh.

A tornado also damaged a condo complex on Siesta Key. Gov. Rick Scott and Sheriff Thomas Knight toured the damage in the afternoon. The roof was torn off one of the buildings, and the parking lot was littered with various pieces of siding, wood and debris.

Greg and Miriam Miller live at the condo complex part-time. They just came in for the winter about a week ago. Miriam woke up first.

"I looked out the window and I heard, to me it was like roaring, but more than just wind, and then I looked out and I saw something dark and it sounded like crashing," she said.

She quickly woke up her husband, Greg.

"Then I saw," Greg continued, "I'm assuming it was the tornado or something fly by the window just that quick, blink of an eye."

"It was gone."

The Millers are out of a home, for now. Their condo received extensive water damage and the roof of their building is gone.

"We have a big mess, but we're fortunate," Miriam said.

They're fortunate to be alive.

Sarasota county residents are encouraged to call the county contact center for report any concerns of questions. That number is 941-861-5000.

Gov. Scott tours damaged areas

Governor Rick Scott toured the damaged areas Sunday afternoon.

The governor was staying at his home in Naples when the storm hit and drove up Sunday morning to see the damage in person.

Gov. Scott said he knew early on that things were going to be bad. 

“Where I live it was really loud there. So I can't imagine what it was like here. In Naples they said the wind was anywhere from 20 to, they said gusts up to 80. But they said here it was probably 120 miles an hour. Can you imagine just going through that?” said Scott.

Scott said what the Wilson family went through was unimaginable. 

"Just think about it. They were all in there and it just rolled and rolled and rolled. And just think about what each of them were going through. I mean every one of them, whether it was the grandparents or the children. You just can't imagine going through that."

Scott also toured the damage at a condominium complex in Sarasota.

Gov. Scott visits with residents in Manatee County.

Gov. Scott tours the damage in Siesta Key.

Gov.Scott and Sarasota County Sheriff Thomas Knight
view damage at the Excelsior Beach to Bay condos.

Gov. Scott speaks with Greg Miller, whose Sarasota condo
was heavily damaged during the tornado.

Timeline of events from Sunday:

1:45 p.m

Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says two female children in serious condition, two male children and male adult in stable condition.  Three of the children are siblings while one of the females is a cousin.  All injuries are believed to be non-life threatening.  

1:30 p.m

The Skyway Bridge, a major thoroughfare in Tampa, has reopened. Officials closed the bridge earlier Sunday morning for the second time since midnight after wind speeds reached up to 50 mph with wind gusts up to 60 mph.

Severe weather sparked a pair of tornadoes that ripped through central Florida before dawn Sunday, officials said. A couple was killed and their son and four grandchildren were injured when one of the twisters destroyed their mobile home in the community of Duette.

Gov. Rick Scott is scheduled to tour damaged areas in Siesta Key at 1:45 p.m.

11:00 a.m.

Officials in Tampa closed the Skyway Bridge, a major thoroughfare, Sunday morning for the second time since midnight after wind speeds reached up to 50 mph with wind gusts up to 60 mph.

Severe weather sparked a pair of tornadoes that ripped through central Florida before dawn Sunday, officials said. A couple was killed and their son and four grandchildren were injured when one of the twisters destroyed their mobile home in the community of Duette.

Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube says two adults, their adult son, and their four grandchildren were inside the mobile home when the early morning twister struck.

11:45 a.m.

The Florida governor's office has announced that Gov. Rick Scott will tour tornado damage in Siesta Key at 1:45 p.m.

In Manatee County, the National Weather Service's preliminary tornado survey has determined that the deadly tornado in Duette in Manatee County was an EF-2 tornado with 127-mph peak winds. According to the NWS report, the survey crew found a single-wide trailer rolled over with debris blown to the northeast.

One of four children in the trailer was severely hurt.

The tornado also destroyed a 2,000-square-foot barn.

9:40 a.m.

The Manatee Sheriff's Office has identified the man and woman killed when a mobile home collapsed in Duette. Steven Wilson, 58, was pronounced dead at the scene by deputies responding to the residence on Albritton Road just after 4 a.m. Kelli Wilson, 51, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Deputies also said that there were three adults in the mobile home, along with the four children. Steven M. Wilson, the third adult, was hospitalized along with the two boys and two girls ages between 6-10 years old. They are all thought to have non-life-threatening injuries, deputies said.

Steven and Kelli Wilson died Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016 by a tornado that collapsed their mobile home in Duette in rural Manatee County. Another adult and 4 children were hospitalized.

9:18 a.m.

Sarasota County residents are encouraged to call 941-861-5000 to report issues or to ask for help.

The Skyway Bridge has been closed a second time due to high winds, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Average wind speeds at the bridge are 40-50 mph, with 50-60 mph gusts. The FHP says to monitor its live crash and roadway reports page or check 511 for up-to-date information.

8:40 a.m.

An official from the National Weather Service is on scene in Duette in Manatee County, surveying the damage to determine the intensity of the tornado. A full report is not complete, but a preliminary assessment finds EF-2 and EF-1 tornado damage. Two people were killed when a mobile home collapsed overnight. Four children were taken to hospital.

About 17,000 homes in the Sarasota County area are without power.

8:20 a.m.

Dangerous boating conditions, coastal flooding and a high rip current risk are expected for much of the day.

8:15 a.m.

In Duette in rural Manatee County, a neighbor of the two residents killed in a mobile home collapse tells Bay News 9 reporter Jason Lanning that the couple were grandparents and had their grandchildren over for the night. The children in the mobile home were injured and taken to hospital. Sheriff's deputies are patrolling the area with ATVs.

Manatee County authorities say they were receiving so many 911 calls during the worst of the storms that they opened their emergency operations center.

8:10 a.m.

On Siesta Key, crews are working to restore power to the area. Near Baywinds Lane, roofs were ripped from homes, and several condominiums were destroyed.

7:27 a.m.

Condominiums in Sarasota have sustained significant damage, according to Bay News 9 reporter Amy Mariani. Two people with minor injuries had to be pulled out of rubble.

7:09 a.m.

Power is out to homes on Siesta Key. There are numerous downed tree limbs on U.S. 41 in Sarasota. According to Sarasota County Public Information Officer Drew Winchester, there was "significant damage to homes" but no reports of major injuries.

6:50 a.m.

Two people, a man and woman, were killed on Albritton Road in Duette in Manatee County in a mobile home collapse. Four children have been hospitalized.

6:20 a.m.

One person was confirmed dead and others injured in Duette in a home collapse.

5:15 a.m.

Severe thunderstorm warning for Polk County until 5:45 a.m. Damaging winds.

4:39 a.m.

Tornado watch canceled for Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough counties.

4:11 a.m.

Tornado warning canceled for Manatee County.

4:00 a.m.

Traffic Alert: The Sunshine Skyway Bridge closed because of high winds.

3:46 a.m.

Storms moving toward northeastern sections of Manatee County, near Duette. Winds at 60 to 70 mph, heading toward Polk County.

911 reports of damage in Duette. A structure has collapsed. An unknown number of injuries.

3:30 a.m.

Tornado warning for central and eastern Manatee County, east of Lakeland Ranch until 4:00 a.m.

3:27 a.m.

Weather spotters: A confirmed tornado was located near Lakewood Ranch, 12 miles south of Sarasota, moving northeast at 45 mph.

National Weather Service: Damage reported along Midnight Pass Road in Sarasota.

3:15 a.m.

Severe thuderstorm warning issued for the following counties until 3:45 a.m.:

  • Hillsborough
  • Pasco
  • Polk
  • Sumter

3:14 a.m.

A severe thunderstorm located near Zephyrhills, moving northeast at 65 mph. Expect damage to roofs, siding and trees.

3:04 a.m.

A potentially dangerous tornado was located 8 miles southwest of Siesta Key, Saint Armands Key and Lindo Key, about 10 miles southwest of Sarasota. The tornado is moving northeast at 60 mph.

3:00 a.m.

Tornado warning in affect for Sarasota and central section of Manatee counties.

Tornado Precautions/Preparedness:

Florida tornadoes come in all shapes and sizes, and can occur year-round, although most occur in the summer during the afternoon.

Signs of a tornado

Besides an obviously visible tornado, here are some things to look and listen for:

  • Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
  • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
  • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
  • Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
  • Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
  • Night - Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

What to do if a tornado approaches

In a house with a basement:

Avoid windows. Get in the basement and under some kind of sturdy protection (heavy table or work bench), or cover yourself with a mattress or sleeping bag. Know where very heavy objects rest on the floor above (pianos, refrigerators, waterbeds, etc.) and do not go under them. They may fall down through a weakened floor and crush you.

In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment:

Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail.

In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper:

Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building -- away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.

In a mobile home:

Get out! Even if your home is tied down, you are probably safer outside, even if the only alternative is to seek shelter out in the open. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. If your community has a tornado shelter, go there fast. If there is a sturdy permanent building within easy running distance, seek shelter there. Otherwise, lie flat on low ground away from your home, protecting your head. If possible, use open ground away from trees and cars, which can be blown onto you.

At school:

Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.

In a car or truck:

Vehicles are extremely dangerous in a tornado. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Otherwise, park the car as quickly and safely as possible -- out of the traffic lanes. [It is safer to get the car out of mud later if necessary than to cause a crash.] Get out and seek shelter in a sturdy building. If in the open country, run to low ground away from any cars (which may roll over on you). Lie flat and face-down, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.

In the open outdoors:

If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.

In a shopping mall or large store:

Do not panic. Watch for others. Move as quickly as possible to an interior bathroom, storage room or other small enclosed area, away from windows.

In a church or theater:

Do not panic. If possible, move quickly but orderly to an interior bathroom or hallway, away from windows. Crouch face-down and protect your head with your arms. If there is no time to do that, get under the seats or pews, protecting your head with your arms or hands.

Fujita Tornado Damage Scale

Florida has two tornado seasons:

  • The Summer Season, from June until September, has the highest frequencies with usual intensities of F0 or F1 on the Fujita Scale. This includes tornadoes that form from landfalling Tropical Cyclones.
  • The Spring Season, from February through April, is characterized by more powerful tornadoes because of the presence of the jet stream.

Fujita Tornado Damage Scale:




EF0 65–85 mph Gale Tornado: Some damage to chimneys. Tree branches broken off. Shallow rooted trees uprooted.
F1 86–110 mph Moderate Tornado: Peels surface off roofs. Mobile homes overturned. Moving autos pushed off roads.
EF2 111–135 mph Significant Tornado: Considerable damage. Roofs torn off frame houses. Large trees snapped or uprooted. Light-object projectiles generated.
EF3 136–165 mph Severe Tornado: Severe damage. Roofs and some walls torn off well-constructed homes. Most trees in forests uprooted. Heavy cars lifted off ground.
EF4 166–200 mph Devastating Tornado: Well-constructed houses leveled. Structures blown off weak foundations. Cars thrown and large projectiles generated.
EF5 >200 mph Incredible Tornado: Strong frame houses lifted off foundations and disintegrated. Automobile-sized projectiles fly through the air in excess of 100 mph. Trees debarked.




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