'The storm has a mind of its own': Suspected tornado downs trees, damages homes in Holt

HOLT — Carol Menzies said she walked out of the bedroom of her home at 4123 Sundance Way on Friday, peered through a window and saw a tree "going in circles" and flying toward her.

She had enough time to round up her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren and pile them and as many of the seven household dogs as would fit into a master bathroom before what is believed to have been a tornado reached their home in Holt.

Menzies said she can't be sure whether the storm passed close to her home or landed right on top of it.

"It was close," she said. "I've got shingles lodged in my fence."

There's also "lots and lots of water in the house," she said, including in three bedrooms.

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The home's roof and vehicles in the yard also sustained damage from falling trees, Menzies added.

"We have damage all over the property," she said.

'The storm has a mind of its own': Suspected tornado downs trees, damages homes in Holt

Tornado will not be confirmed until the weekend

The Menzies' home, which sits at the corner of Sundance Way and Log Lake Road, was one of four that Okaloosa County officials said sustained damage from the storm, which is suspected to have been a tornado but has not yet been officially confirmed as such.

While one social media report from the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama, seemed to confirm that a tornado had touched down, Meteorologist Jonathan Howell said confirmation would not be formalized until a team from NWS could travel to the site and survey the damage.

"Our radar indications suggests it is quite possible it was a tornado," Howell said.

"Any displacement of folks is due to home damage," he said at a 3:30 p.m. press briefing.

Walton County hit with another possible tornado

Walton County was also pelted with heavy rain and turbulent weather Friday. Late in the afternoon an "indication of debris" was reported to the National Weather Service in Tallahassee, according to Meteorologist Mark Wool.

What may be determined to have been a tornado touched down east of DeFuniak Springs just south of Interstate 10 near Shady Grove Road and Hinson's Crossroads, Wool said.

He said Walton County was "hammered" by rain and some flooding took place.

Maddox said Okaloosa County shifted Friday to a modified version of its Level 2 emergency response status. That led to the deploying of command level field staff and personnel being stationed at the county Emergency Operations Center in Niceville.

Sheriff's deputies were sent out to check the area, and Menzies said an EMS ambulance stopped by her home to make sure everyone was OK.

Maddox said full deployment of a team to assess the damage in Holt was held up Friday afternoon by the storm having slowed its movement through the county. He hoped the heavy rains passing through the south and central county in the afternoon would have left the area before nightfall.

"We can't get a whole lot of folks everywhere we need to be" due to lightning in the area, he said. "We hope to get them in there today, but the storm has a mind of its own."

Efforts to reach Florida Power and Light for an estimate of power outages were unsuccessful.

Skies began to clear in Okaloosa about 4:30 p.m. Friday after a second wave of storms passed through the Fort Walton Beach area.