Tornado watch lifted in Manatee, Sarasota; fierce storms hit Tampa Bay

March 6, 2014 

A line of strong storms swept through the Bay area Thursday, bringing with them heavy rain, gusts of wind and possible tornadoes.

But a tornado watch has been lifted in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

The day's wild weather started when a line of severe thunderstorms blew through Pinellas County Thursday morning. The strongest line of storms came on shore near Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores, and moved through central Pinellas County, bringing gusts of wind estimated as high as 45 mph.

Viewer Madonna Diamond, who lives in the Feather Sound community of Clearwater, said she heard the storms move through the area.

"The sound as the front came by was amazing!" she said. "I have never heard wind and rain that loud."

The storm then made its way across Tampa Bay and into Hillsborough County, where it brought strong winds and heavy rain. Areas of potential circulation were spotted near Rocky Point and the Courtney Campbell Causeway shortly before 1 p.m.

“It wasn’t straight across the sky, it actually started to come down and form towards the water and the closer it got, the wider it go," said Darrell Bailey. "We knew if it would’ve hit, it would’ve probably have damaged this whole island.”

Early reports indicate the storm caused some damage in Tampa, near Hanna Avenue and Hanley Road, and damaged several large branches, a fence and a shed in the Largo/Belleair area.

In addition, members of the public reported seeing a waterspout moving onshore at Indian Rocks Beach.

The weather also led to several cancellations on Thursday:

Pirates vs. Blue Jays at McKechnie Field in Bradenton was canceled.

Lowry Park Zoo is closed due to the weather. Will reopen Friday at 9:30 a.m.

Rays game vs. Orioles in Sarasota has been canceled.

Despite the cancellation of the warnings, Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay said the storm will continue to produce strong, gusty winds, heavy rain and small hail until it fully dissipates.

A marine warning was in effect, as Klystron 9 detected a possible waterspout off the coast of Indian Rocks Beach as the line of storms moved toward Pinellas County.

After the storms move through, a cold front will arrive tonight ushering in windy and cooler weather on Friday, which will also have mostly cloudy skies with a chance of isolated showers. High temperatures will be in the 60s.

Conditions will be sunny and warmer this weekend.

EARLIER:

A tornado watch is in effect until 7 p.m. for Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Polk and several other Florida counties.

The watch was issued as an area of storms began sweeping through central Florida Thursday morning.

In addition, a marine warning is in effect, as Klystron 9 has detected a possible water spot about 30 nautical miles west of Indian Rocks Beach.

Temperatures Thursday will remain in the low 70s. There will be some stronger winds in the area as well.

There is a risk of rip currents at area beaches today.

A cold front will arrive tonight ushering in windy and cooler weather on Friday, which will also have mostly cloudy skies with a chance of isolated showers. High temperatures will be in the 60s.

Conditions will be sunny and warmer this weekend.

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