Tornadoes Not on U.S. Mainland; Puerto Rico Reported One

July 18, 2010; 12:41 PM
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A car is seen damaged after scaffolding collapsed due to severe weather in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Saturday, July 17, 2010. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

A tornado was reported to have caused damage in Puerto Rico on Saturday, helping to dispel the myth that tornadoes are only confined to the mainland of the United States.

CNN.com states the reported tornado struck the city of Mayaguez, found on Puerto Rico's western coast, early Saturday afternoon. The tornado twisted scaffolding, crushed cars and caused structural damage. At least four people sustained injuries.

One of the damaged structures was the stadium hosting the 21st Central and Caribbean Games, a multi-sport event that will run through Aug. 1.

The games were originally scheduled to start on Saturday, but the adverse weather forced officials to postpone the opening ceremonies until late Sunday afternoon.

The report of the tornado was relayed to CNN by Luis Correa, a spokesman for the State Emergency Department.

BBC News stated that the "tornado swept in suddenly from the sea." By that account, it is possible that the tornado originated as a water spout offshore.

It should be noted that the local National Weather Service has not confirmed the tornado. The only official storm reports at the time of the reported tornado pertain to strong thunderstorm winds.

A tornado touching down on soil outside of the United States mainland is not unheard of. The book "Extreme Weather" by H. Michael Mogil lists a number of tornadoes that have occurred on each continent across the world, with Antarctica being the exception.

One of the most recent twisters touched down in London on Dec. 7, 2006. Six injuries were reported.

Just over a month earlier during that same year, a tornado killed nine and injured 26 in the Japanese town of Saroma.

In the midst of a tornado outbreak on Oct. 21, 1999, an F3 twister struck a rural area less than 30 miles south of Johannesburg, South Africa. Forty people suffered injuries, 10 of which were serious. Three hundred homes were destroyed.

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