Weather alert: Bradenton, Manatee under tornado watch until 11 p.m.

HERALD STAFF REPORTMarch 17, 2014 

A tornado watch has been issued for six west-central Florida counties as anticipated showers and thunderstorms are moving into the Tampa Bay area.

The National Weather Services issued the watch for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Manatee, Polk and Hernando counties around 12:45 p.m. It runs through 11 p.m. because it includes several counties on the east side of Florida, but the Bay News 9 weather team expects to be lifted much earlier on the west coast.

Parts of eastern Hillsborough, eastern Manatee and Sarasota counties are under a severe thunderstorm warning until 4:15 p.m. Minor storm damage associated with that storm was reported in the Ruskin area of Hillsborough County, along 21st Avenue SW.

Storms passed through Citrus and Hernando counties early this morning, and showers arrived in Pasco around mid-morning. The line of rain and storms continues to move toward the northeast from the Gulf of Mexico and will cross over the entire region.

The rain is putting a damper on St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

"It's St. Patrick's Day, and a lot of people want to get outside and celebrate, but you certainly want to pay attention to the weather," Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez said. "It's really not just this morning, either. The chance of showers and storms will continue for this afternoon and evening for some of us."

The rain could also mean some flooding in low-lying areas.

The rain won't push all the way through until well into Tuesday, but once it does, the area will enjoy pleasant and somewhat cooler conditions, Marquez said.

Morning lows will be in the 50s for the next three mornings. Daytime temperatures will stay in the 70s all week.

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