Tallahassee Airport Hit by Tornado, Damaging Planes and Grounding Flights for Two Hours

Aircraft were damaged after a tornado touched down at the Tallahassee International Airport in Leon County, Florida on Wednesday.

"Because of the warm weather and high dew point that we usually see during the summertime...this has brought on a crazy weather pattern," John Dailey, mayor of Tallahassee, said to Newsweek. "It's unusual."

In the winter months, Dailey said, the city normally sees temperatures around 30 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. According to The Weather Channel, the forecast in Tallahassee for Wednesday was a high of 70 degrees and a low of 41 degrees Fahrenheit.

Main takeaways from a short drive around Tallahassee:

- Damage appears to be minor
- Lots of small debris (leaves, twigs) cover the roads, especially closer to the airport
- Power appears to still be on for most of the area pic.twitter.com/utgF3r36eO

— Riley Winch (@RileyWinchWx) January 27, 2021

Tornados are not unheard of in Tallahassee, Dailey said, so the city is familiar with this kind of weather event.

Around 11:45 a.m. the tornado "jumped down a straight line," Dailey said. Starting in the southwest portion of the city, the storm hit the airport and then moved along Tram Road, where electrical infrastructure was damaged, causing about 5,000 residents to be without power. The storm took down trees and power polls before heading east, hitting a local high school baseball field and then dissipating.

"We've not had any other reports of structure damage to sites around town," Kevin Peters, director of the division of emergency management for Leon County said to The Weather Channel. "We've been very fortunate with this close call...We feel like we've dodged a bullet today."

Peters added that response teams were planning to survey the area as the storm dissipated around noon to inspect for further damage.

More info will continue to come in about the tornado in Tallahassee.

Here's what we know right now: pic.twitter.com/EoaghxiXBW

— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) January 27, 2021

The airport resumed operations around 1:30 p.m. after runways were cleared immediately after the storm, Dailey confirmed. He added that the tornado caused damage to an airline hanger, flipped a small aircraft and moved a few other aircraft. A hazardous materials team worked immediately to clean up any dangerous chemicals that may have leaked from the overturned aircraft.

Mark Woo, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, told Newsweek that experts are still working to assess the full scope of the damage to the airport.

The damage assessment is underway at @TLHAirport, which remains closed. pic.twitter.com/9q9wg3yfZo

— City of Tallahassee (@CityofTLH) January 27, 2021

Daily confirmed no injuries were reported following the storm. He added that the sun was coming out around 1:30 p.m., but the city would continue to monitor any other storms coming in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Storm damage at the Tallahassee Airport. This is a private hangar. pic.twitter.com/zNGj4Xpehd

— Alicia Devine, Photojournalist (@alicia_c_devine) January 27, 2021

The storm had a potential exposure of 197,320 people, included 45 schools and three hospitals, according to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee.

The Tallahassee International Airport did not respond to Newsweek's request for comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had a headline that said the Tampa Airport was hit but a tornado. It was the Tallahassee International Airport.


This is a breaking news story and will be updated with more information.

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