CLEARWATER, Fla. — Tornado warnings were issued Sunday morning across the Tampa Bay region.
The day began with one for Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties as storms pushed through. That warning expired but made way for a new one that popped up for Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties, as the southern part of the Bay area felt powerful winds.
Meanwhile, people living around Fort Myers were urged to seek shelter as a "likely tornado" was seen crossing the region. The National Weather Service will make the official determination, but the video below appeared to show a funnel cloud off in the distance.
Back in the Tampa Bay area, a tree punched a pair of holes into the roof of two apartment units at a building in Clearwater. The Red Cross is helping the people whose units were damaged. Despite the scare, the building remains structurally sound. First responders say there is no danger of the apartment building collapsing, and no injuries have been reported.
Coastal flooding is still a possible issue for the Gulf Coast on the heels of a strong cold front.
Winds ahead of the front are now gusting out of the south-southwest, pushing excess water against the shoreline and once the front moves through by midmorning Sunday westerly winds take continuing the push along the coast.
It's possible high tides could be 2-4 feet on top of what regularly occurs with high tides Sunday occurring late morning towards lunchtime.
Following the front's passage, winds will continue gusting but from the north-northwest, keeping the gulf angry and the coastline inundated at times.
It's for this threat the National Weather Service has issued a coastal flood warning for portions of the coast in Levy, Citrus, Hernando, Pinellas and Pasco counties through Sunday evening.
The Hernando County Sheriff's Office encourages motorists to avoid Pine Island Drive and Bayou Drive because of water flowing over parts of the roadways, a media alert explains.
As of now, the Hernando County Road Department is assessing the area to determine possible road closures.
South of Tarpon Springs, tides could run 1-3 feet above normal. That amount of water still could cause minor flooding, especially in low-lying areas.
Here's a rundown of high tide times and predictions in some of the affected areas:
- Clearwater Beach: High tide is 12:09 p.m at 1.5 feet Sunday
- Hudson: High tide is 2:05 p.m. at 4.10 feet Sunday
- St Petersburg: High tide is 4:06 p.m. at 1.15 feet Sunday
Those gusty winds, as mentioned, will rough up the surf all weekend along the Gulf of Mexico coastline. Swimmers — those enough to brave the chilly water — are advised to keep out because of the threat of rip currents.
And anyone who comes across a road that appears to be flooded should turn around — it can be very difficult to determine its depth.
Along with the coastal flooding threat and deteriorating marine conditions, showers and robust storms move in around sunrise Sunday ahead of the cold front.
Ahead of the weekend, all of west-central Florida had been placed under a Marginal "Level 1" risk for severe weather Sunday morning. Damaging winds and an isolated tornado were the main threats that meteorologists had cautioned about, ahead of time, with storms pushing onshore.
The mainline of rain is out of the area by midday, then westerly winds pick up during the afternoon. Gusts between 30-35 mph are possible through the end of the day. A Gale Warning is in effect for our coastal waters Sunday; boating is not advised.