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Twisters Skip Across N. Florida

March 14, 1986|From United Press International

Tornadoes hopscotched across northern Florida today, ripping up a shopping mall, tearing off roofs and overturning mobile homes as severe thunderstorms raged across the South for the third day.

In the Gainesville, Fla., area, at least two tornadoes downed power lines and damaged cars with flying debris. No injuries were reported, officials said. There were several unconfirmed sightings of tornadoes in central and northern Florida.

"All of a sudden, I heard a loud whooshing, roaring noise and saw the funnel right next to me and the mobile home just started shaking," said Clifton Reynolds, a University of Florida sophomore who was washing his car when a twister hit Thursday night.

"I thought the whole thing was going to blow up. Then I saw part of the roof blow away," he said.

One tornado hit the Northgate shopping center today and tore down several power lines and did structural damage, said Spencer Mann, a spokesman for the Alachua County Sheriff.

"There was some damage, mostly blown-out windows, torn-off roofing and downed power lines. Both of the tornadoes seemed to hit real fast and light. Compared to others that we've had, we were very lucky," he said.

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