Nestor rushed into Georgia Saturday as a post-tropical cyclone after the former tropical storm spawned a tornado that damaged homes and a school in Central Florida but spared an area of the Panhandle devastated one year ago by Hurricane Michael. Gale-force winds and between 1 to 3 inches of rain are expected along portions of the southeastern U.S. Saturday night, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm made landfall on St. Vincent Island, a nature preserve just off Florida's northern Gulf Coast in a lightly populated area of the state, the National Hurricane Center said.
All tropical storm and surge warnings had been canceled by Saturday afternoon. The National Hurricane Center said tornadoes are still possible in Florida and along the Carolina coast.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office said several homes were damaged and Kathleen Middle School had a large section of its roof torn off when the tornado hit late Friday near Lakeland, about an hour's drive southwest of Orlando.
Photos posted by The Ledger newspaper showed a home with a destroyed roof, downed trees, a large recreational vehicle thrown onto its side and vehicles buried under debris. About 10,000 homes were without power Saturday.
"Thankfully, we have not had any reported serious injuries," Sheriff Grady Judd said in a statement. "However, there are many people dealing with damage to their homes and property this morning, some of it severe."
Another suspected tornado in southwest Florida damaged at least a dozen homes in Cape Coral, some severely, the police department said in a statement.
The Florida governor urged people to monitor the storm following reports of tornado damage.
Forecasters said Nestor was centered Saturday near Panama City, Florida. It had top sustained winds of 50 mph and was moving to the northeast at 9 mph. A tropical storm warning remained in effect from the line between Okaloosa and Walton counties east to Yankeetown, Florida.
The hurricane center said Nestor was expected to head inland across the Panhandle and cross parts of the Southeast over the weekend before moving into the Atlantic off North Carolina by late Sunday.
Forecasters expect blustery winds and heavy rain in parts of Alabama, Georgia and northern Florida, reaching the Carolinas and Virginia by Sunday. The Coast Guard said 20-foot seas were possible around Panama City, and dangerous rip currents were possible along beaches during what is still a busy tourism period.