Tornado’s winds tear through Excelsior condo tower

Article and Video Courtesy of Channel 10, WTSP

By Beau Zimmer    

Published January 21, 2016



SIESTA KEY, Florida— We now know it was a strong EF-2 tornado that tore a strip through Sarasota County, starting in Siesta Key and hop scotching across neighborhoods across the county.


A pair of condominium buildings on both sides of Midnight Pass Road. Dan and Jan Cook had just checked into the Excelsior Beach to Bay Condominiums on Saturday for a week-long vacation.

“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” said Dan Cook. He and his wife rented out the 5th floor penthouse but were jolted out of bed early Sunday morning on their first night in Florida.

“As soon as we started realizing what was going on the windows started crashing in,” said Dan.

His wife took us into the now windowless bedroom where they were sleeping.

“He grabbed me and threw me into the bathroom, then it just went crash,” said Jan.

The bed is still filled with shards of glass and other debris and both escaped with only minor cuts. Jan’s brother was sleeping with his wife on the other side of the condo when he got up to turn on the TV and heard the warnings to take cover.

“The weather map was up and Siesta Key was like in the small circle,” said Jan’s brother Bob Wilson. “They’re saying ‘run, run run’ and I dropped the remote and I got to about there,” pointing to the bedroom hallway, “and everything blew out.”


Neighboring condos also suffered major damage. The Aluminum roofing peeled off buildings and the tornados power was enough to topple cement walls, rip off guard rails, and blow out most car windows.

“Our car down [in the parking lot] I think is totaled,” said Jan who plans on returning home to the Chicago area as soon as possible. “We’re going to have to rent a car to get home.”

Tonight we’ve learned the Excelsior Beach to Bay Condos on the Gulf side of Midnight Pass Road has been declared unsafe to occupy. The Red Cross is meeting with residents to make sure everyone has a place to stay and providing hotel vouchers to those who do not.