90.7 WMFE and 89.5 WMFV are Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming and Classical Music. Part of the community since 1965, providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

Tornado Touches Down in Polk County, Damages Kathleen Middle School and Residential Homes

Kathleen Middle School lost part of its roof in the storm. Photo: Polk County Emergency Management Facebook

A tornado with winds as high as 120 mph hit Polk County over the weekend. The EF-2 storm generated by Tropical Storm Nestor touched down at Lakeland Linder International Airport on Friday night.

The storm damaged Kathleen Middle School and homes in the Kathleen area. Classes have been canceled through Tuesday October 22.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says it was a miracle there were no serious injuries. 

“And I want you think about this. Last night you went to bed safe and secure. Then all of a sudden your house vaporizes around you when you’re in bed. That’s what happened to one family. And they weren’t injured other than some bumps and bruises. It’s a miracle.”

Polk County Emergency Manager Paul Womble says the 120 mph winds caused damage to about 50 buildings including residential homes.

“We’ve got houses that are just completely flattened. And we’ve got some other ones where the damage is significant and then some minor cosmetic damage. Some of the damage we saw earlier in the city of Lakeland had glass windows just completely blown out of the back side of a house. So it’s a wide spectrum.”

The National Weather Service in Tampa also confirmed an EF-0 tornado in Seminole County and an EF-1 tornado in Cape Coral.

No injuries were reported from either of these storms.

If you’d like to listen to the story, click on the clips above.

Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida news, updates on special programs and more.

Stay tuned in to our local news coverage: Listen to 90.7 WMFE on your FM or HD radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” and you’ll be connected.

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Danielle Prieur

About Danielle Prieur

Reporter & Fill-in Host

Danielle Prieur is a general assignment reporter at WMFE. You can hear her reporting on a daily basis on the station. She also fills-in as a host during the morning and afternoon drive times. Her reporting has been featured on NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and Vox. Danielle is originally from Rochester Hills, ... Read Full Bio »