A storm system pounded the Florida Keys on Wednesday as rains left many roads and streets under water. Powerful winds cut power lines and snapped large limbs, leaving many residents surprised by the storm’s severity.

Rain and damage from the storm led to the closure of Card Sound Road on Thursday morning. An alert from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office asks motorists to use the 18-Mile Stretch. The road reopened to traffic just before 3 p.m. Thursday.

County parks in the Upper Keys are also closed due to considerable debris, as crews clean up the limbs and make necessary repairs. Closures include Harry Harris Park and Old Settlers Park in Tavernier, Key Largo’s Friendship Park and Key Largo Park. 

The storm also inflicted its wrath in Islamorada with pounding rains and wicked winds on Wednesday. Neighborhoods with downed trees in the right of way or road are asked to call village public works at 304-664-6450. 

A tornado warning was issued for parts of the village from MM 72 to MM 90 just before 6 p.m. Wednesday. Jon Rizzo, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service,  said there were no confirmed touchdowns in the village, but there’s plausible evidence of a small tornado on Big Pine Key early Wednesday morning. 

“It wasn’t very strong thankfully,” Rizzo said, adding that house siding was ripped off and trees were down in the Eden Pines neighborhood. 

Severe weather knocked out power for many residences in the Upper and Middle Keys from Wednesday evening through Thursday morning. As of 6 a.m., 622 residents mainly in the Upper Keys were without power. Florida Keys Electric Cooperative said crews are working to restore service. FKEC reminds residents to stay away from any downed power lines or any debris or trees near the lines. 

According to the National Weather Service, Key Largo received the most rain with 19.07 inches. Tavernier received 15.58 inches, while parts of Islamorada had 15.30 inches of rain. The highest wind gust of 66 mph was recorded at Ocean Reef airport. At sea, wind gusts were clocked at 86 mph at Key Largo’s Carysfort Lighthouse.

Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.