The 2018 Clermont-Groveland-Four Corners, Florida Tornado was a violent, multi vortex, long-lived and catastrophic EF5 tornado that struck the Clermont-Groveland-Four Corners area around 11:00 AM EST. The behemoth left 16,763 people dead (1,500 on Interstate 4 and 867 in and around Four Corners Upper School) and 328,609 people injured. The twister left an estimated record amount of damage at $81.6 billion (2018 USD). The tornado was apart of a tornado outbreak that caused many other multi-vortex and catastrophic tornadoes between May 1st and May 4th.
The morning of the tornado, an enhanced risk for severe weather was issued as parts of a massively violent system broke off from the main system and shifted into the Dixie Alley region of the United States.
That outbreak saw a trio of EF5's that caused an incredible combined total of $12.98 billion (2018 USD) in damages and killed a combined 505 people in one of the costliest tornado outbreaks ever recorded.
The tornado first touched down about 20 miles west of Orlando. At first as an EF1, the tornado touched down at 11:05 AM EST 2 miles west of Clerbrook Golf & RV Resort. The tornado knocked down trees at EF1 strength and then entered Clerbrook near the trash dumpsters at the back of the resort.
EF2 damage was recorded when 4 mobile homes were hit, injuring 4 people. The tornado continued it's path, hitting more mobile homes. The now EF1 briefly weakened, then intensifying back into an EF2. The tornado exited the resort after leaving 265 people injured, and either badly damaging or destroying all mobile homes in the resort. The tornado then paralleled US Highway 27 as an EF2. The now low EF3 badly damaged Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards before the tornado hit the Lake County prison. The now high-end EF3 badly damaged the prison and damaged 5 houses, injuring 9.
The now EF4 completely demolished a John Deere tractor dealership, throwing tractors up to 0.5 miles away. The main building of the facility was ripped off it's foundation. The EF4 moved on to badly damage a Dollar General, a Dunkin Donuts, a McDonalds, a CVS, a Walgreens, and a gas station, causing an explosion. The EF4 then completely swept away Minneola City Hall. The high-end EF4 then briefly went into the neighborhood of Bella Collina. The EF4 cleanly swept away 45 houses in the neighborhood and then continued on it's damaging path.
The now EF5 completely swept away many small businesses, a couple restaurants, a U-Haul rental facility, and a motel, killing 49. The EF5 also struck up to 159 cars, killing 234. The now EF4 struck 3 restaurants, a Publix, more small businesses, 2 gas stations, 5 doctors offices, and more houses, killing 56 more people. The now EF3 came up upon US Highway 50 and headed east. It hit 15 restaurants, 28 stores, and South Lake hospital. The hospital was hit with wind speeds of 170 miles per hour. 398 people were killed on US Highway 50 before the tornado moved on.
The tornado then moved back towards US Highway 27, hitting a hotel, 5 stores and an Arby's. The tornado also killed 2 people trapped in their car. The tornado then stalled at an outlet of a combined 31 stores, killing 1,057. The now EF5 also completely swept away a Harley Davidson shop, a Family Christian Center, a BJ's, and 7 more stores, killing another 26. The EF5 then went over a hill, causing it to drop to an EF2. The EF2 quickly intensified into an EF3 when it hit a Kohl's, a Walmart, 8 shops, and a Bob Evans. The EF4 then hit over 20 doctors offices before narrowly dodging Lost Lake Elementary, East Ridge Middle, and East Ridge High. The tornado continued it's path, hitting a Race Trac, killing 5. The EF4 then hit King's Ridge and Legends, killing 459. The tornado then hit another Publix, 8 more stores, and CVS and Walgreens, 12 more stores, and Vista Del Lago, killing 701. Another RV resort was badly damaged when the EF4 completely annihilated it. Another neighborhood was also badly damaged when the high-end EF4 hit a power grid and the neighborhood at the same time.
Another 5 were killed when the twister hit 2 tractor trailers and a tractor were thrown 720 yards into Lake Louisa. The state park of Lake Louisa was damaged by 155 mph winds and the EF3 moved onto Tradds Landing. The now EF4 hit Sawgrass Bay and Sawgrass Bay Elementary head on. 521 people were killed when many houses and the school were leveled. The now EF5 continued on and struck 11 more neighborhoods, killing 3,289. Another 7 were killed when they hid under an overpass to hid from the monster. A Circle K was leveled and so was 4 apartment buildings, killing 205. As the tornado passed North East Regional Park, the EF5 weakened back to an EF1, before intensifying back up to an EF4 when it hit New Beginnings High. Another 1,429 were killed when the tornado struck a fourth Publix and a dozen restaurants.
The tornado then hit 12 more neighborhoods, killing 87. At an EF3, the tornado was in the direct path of Four Corners Upper School. The tornado regained EF5 strength and had recorded wind speeds of up to 318 mph when it hit the school, 2 neighborhoods, and a sports field at once. An estimated 867 were killed, 750 were students at the Upper School. Two other tornadoes touched down other than the EF5. An EF3 badly damaged apartments before dissipating. A small rope tornado also touched only causing minor roof damage before dissipating as well.
The damaging now EF4 continued it's path toward Interstate 4. The Interstate was hit head on at EF3 strength, killing 1,503. The EF3 then hit a big outlet with many stores and resturants, killing 5,870. The tornado then tracked towards a bridge that connected Davenport to Four Corners. The EF3 then weakened to an EF0 0.2 miles from another Walmart.
The record monster tornado dissipated at 1:37 PM EST after leaving 16,763 dead, 328,609 more injured and an estimated record $81.6 billion (2018 USD) in damages. The tornado tracked 63.45 miles and had a peak width of 1.3 miles.
Many researchers have cited that the rated EF5 tornado could have been rated an EF6. Other researchers have stated that the highest recorded wind speeds were 318 miles per hour, not 319 mph which is at beginning EF6 intensity.
Although the final damage estimates were at $76.9 billion. But researchers have stated that the damage could be as much as $82.3 billion. The National Weather Service centers in Dodge City, Kansas and Norman, Oklahoma have stated that it is possible that the damage estimates could be higher than $76.9 billion.