Small Tornado Hits Northwestern Puerto Rico, Downing Trees And Power Lines

(AP) — A small and rare tornado swept briefly through a town in northwestern Puerto Rico, damaging homes and causing at least one landslide, officials said Monday. No injuries were reported.

The tornado touched down in the coastal town of Aguada on Sunday afternoon, according to the US National Weather Service. The agency said it would analyse the damage to determine the tornado’s classification.

Government officials told reporters that the short-lived tornado downed trees and power lines and tore off the roof of at least one home before it moved out to sea. Videos posted on social media show palm trees bending in heavy winds as debris swirls in the air as people are heard yelling in the background.

A total of 24 tornadoes, including the one reported Sunday, have hit Puerto Rico since record-keeping began in 1950, according to a database by the US National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.

“The majority of them don’t even cause any damage,” said Emanuel Rodríguez González, a meteorologist with the US National Weather Service. “They’re quite weak.”

The strongest one in recent decades hit the north coastal town of Arecibo in May 2022 with winds between 86 mph to 110 mph. It blew off roofs and downed several trees and power lines.

Sunday’s tornado may have reached that speed, and experts with the US National Weather Service traveled to Aguada on Monday to determine its classification, Rodríguez said.

He noted that strong afternoon thunderstorms in the area, common during the summer months, and a heavy sea breeze combined with the region’s topography could have led to the small tornado’s formation.