Heavy weather rolls through Palmetto, Manatee

A strong storm blew through Manatee County Wednesday night, producing a tornado and heavy rain, but apparently little damage.

The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado was spawned in Palmetto that moved northeast toward Parrish before dissipating. A tornado warning that was issued for the northern third of Manatee County at about 8:30 p.m. was cancelled less than 30 minutes later.

At least an inch of rainfall was reported in Anna Maria and Terra Ceia, according to BayNews9.

The rain is making an appearance throughout west central and southwest Florida after a long dry spell.

As the rainy season approaches, more frequent showers are expected, said Eric Oglesby, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Ruskin.“It’s not totally unusual,” he said.

Forecasters are predicting a 40 percent chance of rain in the Bradenton area today. Thunderstorms are expected primarily inland through Thursday. According to the National Weather Service, storms may produce high winds, frequent lightning and heavy rainfall.

Oglesby said most areas will receive another half-inch of precipitation, while a few might get up to two inches. He said flooding is not expected.

“We’ve been in a drought,” Oglesby said. “Any rainfall right now is very beneficial.”

While the rain may be welcome, Oglesby said it is important for motorists to be cautious and drive slowly when in areas of heavy rainfall.

“When you get your first few heavy rains, you’ll see people driving too fast and hydroplaning and spinning out into ditches,” Oglesby said.

Rain usually frequents the area starting in early June and through late August or early September, he said.

The rain is expected to let up Thursday night and Friday, with forecasters citing a 20 percent chance of precipitation.