FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. -- Witnesses report seeing a tornado touch down in Fernandina Beach at about 5 p.m. Thursday. Shawn Johnson, a experienced local storm chaser, heard the tornado warning and grabbed his camera to shoot pictures of the storm cloud.
"It was almost like a ball", said Johnson, "It really wasn't tornado forming or tornado like. It was more like a ball. There was a lot of up-lift. You could see a little bit of the tornado and the debris, then it was gone."
Eyewitnesses say the tornado touched down and was gone within 20 seconds. Also gone was the roof off a beach house on the 1600 block of South Fletcher Avenue.
Most of the roof flew about 100 feet and struck another house two doors down the beach where a family of eight on vacation from Atlanta was huddled in a closet with their dog.
Mike Ivie, who's renting the house for this week, said, "We all ran and got in the closet. We heard a loud bang."
That "bang" was a roof from another house crashing against the side of his house.