Severe weather in Tampa, Fla., Tuesday churned up a waterspout in a bay that made landfall, damaging coastline buildings and downing trees and lampposts.
One of the most iconic images from the storm was taken by a SKYWARN spotter volunteer for the National Weather Service, Robert Siegel. According to Our Amazing Planet, Siegel was visiting Florida on vacation and was near the Hillsborough Bay just after 11 a.m. to snap a photo of the spout.
This image was tweeted by Tampa's regional National Weather Service from Robert Siegel. (Image: NWS/Robert Siegel)
Once the spout hit land, it was a tornado with winds reaching up to 85 miles per hour. The area was warned earlier in the day of the potential for tornadoes with a watch in effect until 3 p.m. due to a cold front moving into the area.
According to Tampa Bay Online, those in the area reported the high winds coming on suddenly:
Around the corner at Hooters, general manager Robert Fisher said the sky turned an ominous shade of orange shortly after 11 a.m.
“Very suddenly, it got very windy,” he said.
The front door flew open, then slammed shut, Fisher said. He ushered employees and customers away from windows just as a streetlamp outside snapped in half.
Tables and chairs in Hooters’ outside patio were tossed and damaged. The wind plucked one table from the patio and catapulted it across the street, where it crashed into the wall of a parking garage.
“The whole thing lasted only 30 to 45 seconds,” Fisher said.
Tampa police officers interview witnesses and take photos of a large piece of roofing that fell on the sidewalk in front of waterfront docks on Harbour Island in Tampa, Fla. on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. The National Weather Service confirmed the damage was caused by a tornado Tuesday morning. (Photo: AP/The Tampa Tribune, Jim Reed)
Austin McWhorter of Clearwater, left, and Henry Carpenter of Indian Rocks Beach walk down a rainy street in Treasure Island as they head for the weather-driven waves at Sunset Beach, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. A tornado watch was issued Tuesday morning for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties. The National Weather Service issued the watch to cover most of the central and north Florida area. (Photo: AP/Tampa Bay Times, Will Vragovic)
WPTV reported Harbour Island Hotel guest Adam Page describing the waterspout turned tornado as "like the breath of God."
"I opened the window, I opened the shades up and I see there is heavy wind and for literally about six or seconds seconds, it was like the breath of God came down," Page said, according to WPTV. "The next thing I knew I saw a piece of a palm tree and that whole piece of roofing that you guys see over there. I see that, just flying off. All the trees are pretty much like horizontal to the ground and for a second I was like, 'what's going on over here?'"
Watch this local ABC station's report detailing some of the damage:
(H/T: Daily Mail)