Confirmed EF 2 Tornado in South Walton County, Driftwood Estates Neighborhood

Release Date: January 25, 2023 WALTON COUNTY, FL – National Weather Service (NWS) Tallahassee conducted preliminary damage assessments in the affected areas of south Walton County, where they confirmed Sunday’s severe weather system as an EF 2 tornado with maximum wind speeds of approximately 115 MPH.

According to NWS, the tornado touched down in the Driftwood Estates subdivision between Riverbirth Loop and Cocobolo Drive at approximately 5:14am. Traveling northeast, the system lifted briefly over a boarding wooded area, then touched down on Red Bay Court and continued northeast until lifting into the Choctawhatchee Bay at 5:15am. The path was approximately 0.8 miles in length, with a maximum width of 85 yards. On Sunday, January 22nd, South Walton Fire District (SWFD) and Walton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) responded to reports of potential lightning strikes to homes. After further investigation, responding agencies found varying levels of water and wind damage to homes and conducted welfare checks throughout the area. Walton County Emergency Management (WCEM) conducted initial damage assessments to the affected area and surveyed the potential unmet needs of the community. Red Cross assisted with case management and provided alternative housing for displaced residents.

“Given the speed with which the tornado developed, we’re grateful to report no injuries from this event,” said WCEM Director, Jeff Goldberg. “Our team witnessed the selflessness of neighbors supporting neighbors and a seamless response from our partnering agencies. We’re grateful for the swift response and look forward to assisting this community in returning to normalcy.”

Damage assessments were conducted on Cocobolo Drive, Pin Oak Loop, Loblolly Bay Drive, Red Bay Court, and Driftwood Point Road in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. Combined data from WCEM, NWS Tallahassee, and the Residential Self-Reporting tool estimated a total of 37 impacted homes, with classifications ranging from affected to major. Numerous properties received damage, including broken fences, heavy vegetation, and widespread debris. Residents impacted by the Driftwood Estates Tornado are encouraged to complete the Walton County Emergency Management Damage Reporting Survey to help determine the scope of the storm’s impacts and address any unmet needs.

Survey can be found here: https://bit.ly/3kyKRZn. For questions, please contact wcem@waltoncountyem.org

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Confirmed EF 2 Tornado in South Walton County, Driftwood Estates Neighborhood

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