TAMPA, Florida -- No one saw it coming, a massive waterspout hit downtown Tampa, twisting its way across Harbour Island, ripping away roof panels at the hotel, before moving inland and continuing the assault.
At the Towers of Channelside, residents were jolted out of sleep. "What scared me was the sound of the furniture being slammed up against the windows. [I was] worried that it would break the glass and it would all come in on me," said tower resident Ryan Luthor.
Luthor lives on the 20th floor and watched as his balcony furniture was slammed into a corner.
"Thunderstorms and rain, that's not unusual, but this was much too intense to stand out here. I had to go back in, afraid I would be blown off my balcony," said Luthor.
Windows shattered, railings ripped away, and awnings were torn clean off. Furniture from a dozen units were hurled off the balconies to the ground. Trees snapped, powerlines were severed, and street signs buckled under the sheer force of straightline winds.
"It was incredible. All I saw was the lounger from my balcony spinning around in the air then hurled off into somewhere. It landed in the pool on the other side of the building," said another resident.
As the storm line moved through, violent winds forced students back inside HCC as debris started to fly.
People all over the metro said they've never seen such violent weather come and go as quickly as it did today.
"There was no warning, it was on top of us within seconds," said one downtown worker.
"I've lived here 10 years and I've never seen wind that strong before."