'Super' Storm Cell Triggered Deadly Tornado

By  | 

Weather experts say the deadly tornado that struck central Florida was spawned by a "super cell" in a line of powerful thunderstorms that crossed the state in the middle of the night.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service office in Melbourne say the tornado had wind speeds of 100 to 110 miles per hour, and potentially much greater.

February in Florida typically marks the start of spring storm season. But state meteorologist Ben Nelson says this year there's another factor: the El Nino ocean warming effect in the Pacific Ocean, which tends to produce stronger thunderstorms coming into Florida off the Gulf of Mexico.

A similar scenario happened in 1998, when five twisters struck near the Orlando area. Forty-two people were killed. About 26-hundred homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. That was Florida's deadliest tornado event on record.

Ironically, El Nino is also the main reason for the relatively quiet 2006 hurricane season, when no major storms struck the United States.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)