CRESTVIEW — A brief tornado is the likely cause of Monday evening's damage to a food service building and outer perimeter fence at the Okaloosa Correctional Institution work camp on Colonel Greg Malloy Road, according to the National Weather Service.
The Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office posted photos from the scene on their Facebook page on Tuesday morning, calling the event "a possible tornado." Sheriff's deputies were called to the correctional facility to assist in providing security while inmates were transported to another facility.
Details on the number of inmates transferred and the locations to which they were transferred will be included in a news release expected to be released Wednesday morning by the Florida Department of Corrections.
There were no injuries to inmates or staff as a result of the tornado, according to the Sheriff's Office post on Facebook. Neither the sheriff's office nor the nearby Crestview Police Department reported any other tornado damage in the area.
A National Weather Service meteorologist in Mobile said Tuesday morning the office had not received any reports of a tornado in the Crestview area on Monday evening.
Later in the day, however, the Mobile NWS office posted the following on Twitter: "After reviewing radar data and pictures submitted by emergency management, we have concluded that damage to a food services building and perimeter fence at the Okaloosa Correctional Facility ... was likely the result of a brief EF-0 tornado."
An EF-0 tornado produces winds between 65 mph and 85 mph, according to Mobile NWS meteorologist Don Shepherd. There were storms in the area at the time, Shepherd said, which meant that there was enough wind shear — changes in wind speed and direction — to produce a tornado.
Tuesday's NWS review of radar data from Monday did show what appeared to be a debris field, but the tornado was "a brief little event" that could have occurred in the brief time it takes for the Mobile radar to complete a single scan of the area, Shepherd explained.
Also, Shepherd said, the distance of the Mobile radar from Crestview made it difficult to determine what had happened Monday evening.