Thunderstorm blows through town, causing wrecks, downing trees


A workers with the Physical Plant Division clears fallen limbs from Center Drive at the University of Florida in Gainesville following a thunderstorm on Friday.

Elizabeth Hamilton/The Gainesvil
Published: Friday, June 14, 2013 at 1:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 14, 2013 at 1:43 p.m.

A powerful thunderstorm packing wind speeds up to 55 mph roared through Gainesville shortly before noon Friday and left in its wake downed trees, downed power lines and at least 10 vehicle crashes on Interstate 75 — including two tractor-trailers.

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A workers with the Physical Plant Division clears fallen limbs from Center Drive at the University of Florida in Gainesville following a thunderstorm on Friday.

Elizabeth Hamilton/The Gainesvil

There were five reports of downed trees, officials reported, and power lines were toppled in several spots throughout the city, officials reported.

Of the 10 crashes on I-75 that Florida Highway Patrol worked, nine of them occurred between mile markers 386 and 394, some involving injuries that required a trip to the hospital, FHP Sgt. Tammy Wildy said.

Soon after the National Weather Service issued a significant weather advisory just after 11 a.m. Friday, reports came in of a downed tree across the eastbound lanes of Northwest 16th Avenue, just west of 34th Street.

A large oak with an estimated trunk diameter of 2 feet across fell at 4545 NW Eighth Ave., blocking both eastbound lanes. There also were trees uprooted at Southwest 14th Avenue and 13th Street.

At 1:45 p.m. GRU said there were 1,400 customers without power as a result of the storm.

“The storm was quick moving, but unfortunately we've got pockets of customers without power all over Gainesville,” said GRU spokeswoman Kendall Litton Jensen. The heaviest-hit area for outages was the southeast side of town, between the areas south of University Avenue and east of Main Street, with 686 customers without power.

Friday's noontime storm was the result of a cold front approaching the area. In mid-June, a cold front typically does not mean a dip in temperatures but rather that humidity levels are expected to be lower than normal.

Highs Saturday through Monday are forecast to be about 90 degrees, with mostly sunny conditions. The lows Saturday night and Sunday night are expected to be between 67 and 72 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

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