Residents in the Manatee County area battened down the hatches Sunday evening as the National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning, and 12 counties, including Manatee, were placed under a tornado watch until 10 p.m.
Florida Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which was closed to high profile vehicles Sunday morning, was closed to all vehicles later in the day due to high winds.
“With winds now averaging 43-52 mph, the Skyway Bridge is now closed to all traffic,” Sgt. Steve Gaskins, Florida Highway Patrol public affairs officer, said in an email at 5:13 p.m.
The gusty winds had wind vanes spinning, and flags waving, as light rain, and occasional lightning moved into the area about 6 p.m.
For a few minutes prior to 8 p.m., the tornado watch was elevated to a tornado warning as a rapidly moving weather cell moved northeast from Oneco toward Ellenton.
Damage appeared minimal with the Manatee Emergency Communications Center receiving reports of a roof being torn off a mobile home. A second mobile home had its roof partially removed. Both of the mobile homes were in the southwest Bradenton area. There were no reports of injuries.
Florida Power and Light and Peace River Electric Cooperative each reported a small number of outages in their Manatee County service area.
A strong line of storms making their way toward Florida produced the unsettled weather.
A series of disturbances in the atmosphere were responsible for the severe weather over the Southeast, said meteorologist Josh Linker of BayNews9.
The National Weather Service said a coastal hazard statement remains in effect through Monday evening, and a high rip current risk remains in effect through Tuesday evening.
A high surf advisory remains in effect through 1 p.m. Tuesday. The advisory means there could be some localized erosion of beach sand and dangerous swimming conditions.