Strong storms moving ashore in Manatee

A fast-moving cell of strong storms is set to move ashore on Anna Maria Island by 6:30 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, a tornado watch for Manatee and 23 other Florida counties has been discontinued as of 6 p.m.

Much of central Florida has been hit today by heavy thunderstorms brought by a series of upper-level disturbances moving from the Gulf of Mexico to the east coast.

The strongest storms were located between Bushnell in Sumter County to Jasmine Estates in Pasco County, according to the weather service. Isolated strong storms also hit Polk County.

Rainfall totals of 5-6 inches were seen in Levy and Citrus counties, while areas of Hernando and Pasco counties had 2-4 inches, according to Rick Davis, at the weather service’s Ruskin office.

The rain has spared Manatee up to this point, but the forecast for this evening called for as much as 1-2 inches in some areas of the county, Davis said.

Sustained winds have reached 30 mph today at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, according to the weather service’s Web site. The highest gusts were recorded at 46 mph.

Another round of thunderstorms will come ashore Friday morning and move east out of Manatee by late afternoon.

The weekend should be dry, yet breezy, Davis said. High temperatures Saturday at the beaches should be around 70, with mid-70s inland.

Also under a tornado watch earlier today were the following counties: Brevard, Citrus, DeSoto, Flagler, Hardee, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Marion, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia.