Flood watch issued for Manatee through Saturday afternoon

Herald Staff WritersMay 3, 2014 

Staff Photographer

Storm clouds can be seen rolling south toward West Bradenton on Friday afternoon in this view from the top of the county parking garage in downtown Bradenton. Melissa Matisko/Special to the Herald

PAUL VIDELA — pvidela@bradenton.com Buy Photo

MANATEE -- A stalled weather front over the area wreaked havoc throughout Manatee County on Friday and promised to deliver more wet weather on Saturday.

The severe downpours resulted in the National Weather Service issuing a flash flood watch until 4 p.m. Saturday for all of Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando and Sarasota counties.

"Based on Doppler radar, we have estimated parts of Bradenton and Manatee County that have received 3 to 6 inches of rain," forecaster John Jelsema said. "More rain is expected overnight."

Widespread rain totals between 1 to 3 inches were expected Friday night into Saturday with some isolated areas seeing as much as 5 or 6 inches.

The rain is the result of a stalled front with a deep tropical connection all the way down to the equator,

Jelsema said.

The rainy weather will be hanging around through most of the weekend.

Sunday is shaping up to be a better day for outdoor plans, Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure said.

"We're going to start drying out Saturday afternoon," McClure said. "Sunday looks gorgeous."At least two tornado warnings were issued on Friday in Manatee County, although there were no reports of touchdowns.

"We have had no confirmed reports of the tornado, but we have had reports of funnel clouds," Jelsema said.

One funnel cloud was reported five miles northwest of Sarasota and another in southeast Sarasota heading toward Manatee County.

Manatee County Public Safety department received reports of flooding throughout the county, but no closures were reported.

Festival canceled

The incoming rain, thunder and lightning forced sponsors to cancel the fourth annual Food and Wine on Pine scheduled for Saturday.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority for our guests, vendors and volunteers," said Caryn Hodge, marketing director of the Chiles Restaurant Group, and event organizer.

The upscale art and culinary event was slated to serve food and wine from 27 restaurants on Anna Maria Island and beyond as local artists displayed their work. The food fest was set to span Pine Avenue from Gulf Drive to Roser Community Church in Anna Maria.

Food and Wine on Pine will not be moved to another date this year.

"It's really logistically hard to get our vendors to decide on a rain date," Hodge said. "Artists and musicians have gigs on other dates and restaurants are busy, especially with Mother's Day weekend coming up."

Blue Marlin Grill on Bradenton Beach was ready to dole out pounds of lobster and shrimp ceviche and oysters for the event. Manager Max Burke-Phillips said he's adding those items to the list of specials for Friday night.

Hodge said Food and Wine on Pine will likely return next year.

As of Friday evening, organizers said that The Music on the River free concert in Parrish and Relay for Life events in Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton are still scheduled to proceed, but they will continue to monitor weather.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. Follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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