It’s the worst tornado to hit Duval County in nearly a decade.
The National Weather Service Jacksonville confirms to WOKV that an EF2 tornado hit the Arlington area during Thursday’s bad storms, touching down for about one half mile on Monument, just off Derringer. Warning Coordination Meteorologist Al Sandrik surveyed the damage on the scene, and he tells us winds were generally 100-110 mph, although they peaked as high as 125 mph.
“An EF2 tornado is getting right up in to the Category 3 hurricane range, but just for a couple of seconds, not the hours in duration you’d see with a hurricane,” Sandrik says.
He says an apartment complex in the area sustained some bad damage. In fact, the damage to that building’s walls and roof is what led Sandrik to classify the tornado as EF2- the first one to hit Duval County since one shot out of Tropical Storm Bonnie.
And to the people who experienced the storm first hand, the rating comes as little surprise.
“There was just debris all over the place, all the fences were down, all the trees were ripped in half- huge, huge pine trees were ripped in half,” says Matt Goin.
Goin was driving on Monument when he saw the funnel start to form and debris start to fly.
“There was nowhere to go, nothing to do. Once we saw it we all thought the same thing- it looks like a tornado,” he says.
He says the wind forced his truck to shake and pelted debris toward the vehicle. He says it felt like they were hunched in the truck for an eternity, although it was only seconds.
Overall, while this storm was significant for Duval County, Sandrik says it could have been much worse.
“It does compare favorably with EF2 damage that I’ve seen,” he says.
For Goin, it was an experience unlike one he ever thought he would take part in.
“There’s not words to describe it. It’s scary, but exhilarating all at the same time,” he says.
Despite how exhilarating, he says it’s not something he wants to experience again.