(Reuters) – Post-tropical cyclone Nestor made landfall in Florida on Saturday afternoon, bringing tornadoes that downed trees and shredded roofs in Gulf Coast towns and a storm surge that washed over streets.
Nestor was downgraded from a tropical storm, its sustained winds decreasing to 45 miles per hour (72 kph) as it reached Florida’s St. Vincent Island, the National Hurricane Center said in an afternoon update.
“There still is a threat of severe weather, with potentially a few tornadoes across the peninsula as we go through the afternoon and evening hours today,” said meteorologist Andrew Orrison of the National Weather Service.
“And there will be possibly a couple of tornadoes across coastal areas of Georgia, South Carolina and southeast North Carolina as we go through the overnight hours and into part of Sunday.”
The storm turned roadways into rivers and left homes and businesses battered in Pinellas County and neighboring parts of Florida, video images showed.
A possible tornado also ripped off parts of a school’s roof in Polk County, leaving large pieces of wood and bricks scattered on the school grounds.
The drought-stricken southeastern United States could actually benefit from the 2 inches (50 mm) to 4 inches of rain that Nestor was expected to dump on Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina and Virginia before moving out to sea on Sunday night, Orrison said.
“The storm system will move to the northeast, up across the coastal plain of the southeast U.S. and will bring beneficial rains across the entire region,” Orrison said.
“It will be more on a normal footing. We are not expecting any significant flooding concerns whatsoever as Nestor moves inland later through tonight.”
Threats of severe weather were forecast to end on Sunday night, for a dry start to the work week.
“By the end of the weekend, Nestor will be pulling away from the East Coast. The low pressure system associated with Nestor will move out to sea and should no longer be a significant threat to the United States,” Orrison said.
Writing by Barbara Goldberg, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien