Feature Story

Tornado of 1998

Almost 20 years ago, on February 22nd, 1998, a series of tornadoes ripped through Central Florida, causing 42 fatalities and damaging over 3,500 homes.  The series of tornadoes caused over $60 million in damages. The hardest hit locations in Seminole County were Altamonte Springs and Sanford.  The worst damage was centered in mobile home and trailer parks near the City of Sanford.  At least one of the tornadoes reached an estimated F4 (207-260 mph winds on the Fujita Scale).

In addition to the damages and fatalities, 260 people were injured and hundreds more were left homeless. Due to the tornado touching down during the late night/early hours of the morning, many of the victims had missed the warnings issued by officials because they had shut off their radios and TVs and were asleep in bed when the tornadoes struck.

The most violent tornadoes occur in the mid-January to late-March in the State of Florida. While tornadoes can take place at any time, these months have the most reported serious and deadly tornadoes. For this reason, the Seminole County Office of Emergency Management works diligently with the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to keep the residents of Seminole County informed and prepared for any potential weather related event. But we can’t do it alone; everyone must do their part when it comes to preparedness.

We recommend that every resident prepare for emergencies by making a plan, getting a disaster kit, having a NOAA weather radio, and signing up for Alert Seminole notifications.  Alert Seminole will provide up-to-date information on shelter openings, road closures, and even tornado watches and warnings. You can sign up for these notifications by visiting alertseminole.org.