Cold front, gusty winds whip through

MANATEE — The gustiest winds are behind us, but not the clouds, showers and cool temperatures.

A cold front that passed through Manatee late Wednesday night and early this morning will leave us with a chance of a few showers and moderate high temperatures in the mid-70s today, said Paul Close, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

But don’t expect whipping winds anywhere near what we endured Wednesday, with gusts nearing 40 mph. The winds, caused by the pressure gradient of colliding low- and high-pressure systems, even blew down some utility wires that left downtown Bradenton without power for more than an hour.

Most of the west coast of Florida was lashed Wednesday night with high winds and heavy rainfall. The storms moved swiftly across the area, the brunt appearing to hit mid-Pinellas County, although Pasco County had the strongest reported winds. Close said Hudson Beach in Pasco County reported a 60 mph gust.

Twenty-two Florida counties, including Manatee, were under tornado watches from 7:45 p.m. Wednesday through 4 a.m. today.

Wednesday’s storms were just the first in a series of systems expected to affect the area over the next few days, according to Josh Linker, a Bay News 9 meteorologist.

Another area of low pressure is expected to form Friday and Saturday, he said. Temperatures will drop to the mid-60s and widespread rain is expected.

Low temperatures are expected to sink into the mid-50s over the weekend, including the upper-40s inland Sunday.

— The St. Petersburg Times contributed to this report.

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