The 1997 Miami Tornado (also known as the Great Miami Tornado) was an F1 tornado which touched down in Miami, Florida on May 12, 1997. It is remembered not for its minor damage but for its haunting pictures, which made headlines around the world.
The tornado formed in the afternoon (around 2:00 PM), initially touching down in the Silver Bluff Estates area. It then swept through Downtown, bypassing the city's skyscrapers. It then crossed the MacArthur Causeway and the Venetian Causeway, towards Miami Beach, sideswiping a cruise ship. It lifted from the water halfway through Biscayne Bay and touched down briefly again in Miami Beach, flipping over a car and then dissipating. The Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma had predicted tornadoes in the area and warned that there might be more to come.
While hurricanes are often seen as the biggest weather threat to Miami, tornadoes are relatively common in South Florida, although the vast majority of the ones that strike Miami-Dade County are small, relatively weak F0 or F1 tornadoes. Most of these tornadoes form as either waterspouts off Biscayne Bay, as part of the frequent afternoon thunderstorms, or spawned from a tropical storm or hurricane. Tornadoes can and have occurred in every month of the year in Miami-Dade County.