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EARLIER: Manatee, Sarasota under tornado watch

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch for an eight-county area, including Manatee and Sarasota.

Severe thunderstorms moving through Southwest Florida are to blame, and the watch is in effect until 7 tonight

The area includes Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Polk, Charlotte and Lee counties.

If the National Weather Service issues a tornado warning -- meaning a tornado has been sited -- people should seek shelter.

The severe weather is due to a low pressure system is moving over the Florida peninsula from the Gulf of Mexico. Winds between 25 to 30 mph have been recorded with rainfall amounts of an inch per hour in some locations, according to the National Weather Service.

According to Bay News 9, the heavy rain affected area outdoor Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events across the Bay area today.

Two of the biggest events were canceled.

According to the Tampa Police Department, the city's Martin Luther King Parade has been canceled due to weather.

A short time later, St. Petersburg officials followed suit.

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