Rains forecast to fall all day in Manatee

More than 1 1/2 inches of rain had fallen since midnight at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport as of 11.15 a.m. this morning, according to the National Weather Service. There is a 90 percent chance of continued rainfall today.

Manatee missed the brunt of Thursday’s stormy weather as central Florida was slammed by heavy rains, multiple thunderstorms and high winds.

The worst of it: two confirmed tornadoes touched down in Haines City in Polk County. Minor damage to homes, sheds and trees was reported, but there were no injuries, according to BayNews9 meteorologist Brian McClure.

There also were reports of mobile home damage in Zephyrhills in Pasco County, minor mobile home roof damage in Largo in Pinellas County and some minor wind damage in Hernando in Citrus County.

The heaviest rains inundated Citrus County, according to McClure, with Inglis netting the highest confirmed total of 5.7 inches.

Sustained winds of 30 mph were commonplace across the affected area, too, as were gusts up into the 40s.

Sustained winds reached as high as 30 mph Thursday at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, according to the National Weather Service’s Web site. The highest gusts were recorded at 46 mph.

As for today, rain will fall in Manatee and across the region. The only uncertainty is how much. McClure said the range could be anywhere from a quarter of an inch to 5 inches.

“We’re kind of in a sandwich. There’s a front coming from the west and moisture from the south heading back north,” he said. “And both will result in showers and storms for (today).”

How about a more precise forecast?

“It’s always tricky to predict rainfall,” McClure said. Case in point Thursday: Just a short car ride from places that saw 4-5 inches of rain, Tampa International Airport reported only a tenth of an inch.

McClure’s best estimate for Manatee today: Rain around rush hour, then a lull, followed by another wave of showers in the afternoon. Then the skies should clear out by tonight. Stress should.

“I can’t stand when it’s like this,” said McClure, who logged a 12-hour day Thursday. “Some days are so easy, but when the forecast is hard, that usually means something big is going on. That’s when it’s more difficult.

“It’s all about where the thunderstorms set up.”

As for the rest of the weekend, think dry. High temperatures Saturday at the beaches should be around 70, with mid-70s inland.

Related stories from Bradenton Herald