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Storms move out of Tampa Bay area: Live updates

The severe weather threat appears to have passed for most of Florida's Gulf Coast.
Credit: Beau Zimmer

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A line of strong to severe thunderstorms rolled through the Florida Gulf coast on Friday.

Ahead of the weather system, the Storm Prediction Center had much of the Tampa Bay region under an enhanced risk for severe weather. That meant numerous severe storms were possible, including those that could have created damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes.

Ultimately, widespread damage appears to have been avoided. Although, there were reports of flooding, downed trees and even a tragic death in Leon County, Fla.

Below is a live blog of how the day unfolded.

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6:15 p.m.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge was reopened to all traffic.  

Refresh this page for the latest updates: 

6:06 p.m.

The National Weather Service canceled the severe thunderstorm warning for Highlands County.

4:48 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Highlands County.

4:30 p.m.

The Alafia River in Hillsborough County was put under a flood warning. 

4:08 p.m.

The severe thunderstorm warning for Manatee and Sarasota counties was canceled. 

Strong storms are still moving through parts of Polk, Highlands counties. 

3:31 p.m.

A new severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Polk, Sarasota and Highlands counties. 

3:18 p.m.

The tornado watch for Hernando, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. The severe thunderstorm warnings for Hillsborough, Manatee, Polk and Sarasota counties were expired. 

2:50 p.m.

The ground stops that TIA announced around 1 p.m. was lifted. As of 2:45 p.m. 176 delays and 67 cancellations were still in place for the airport.

2:14 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued until 3:30 p.m. for Hardee, Hillsborough, Manatee, Polk and Sarasota counties. Wind gusts to 60 mph and penny-sized hail are possible.

2 p.m.

Duke Energy reported there were more than 5,000 people without power at 2 p.m. TECO reports there were nearly 1,000 people without power in the Tampa and Lakeland areas as of 1 p.m. 

1:58 p.m.

An airplane was struck by lightning while landing at Jacksonville International Airport on Friday, according to reports from airport staff.

1:52 p.m.

The tornado watch for Citrus County was canceled.

1:40 p.m.

Although a tornado threat remains, forecasters say there is a greater risk for strong to even damaging winds into the afternoon. A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued until 10 p.m. for parts of central and southwest Florida.

1:19 p.m.

A severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sumter counties until 2:30 p.m.

10News reporter Liz Crawford said there was very heavy rain in Tarpon Springs. The streets are flooding and there is gusty wind and lightning.  

1:16 p.m.

Strong storms are delaying and canceling flights at the Tampa International Airport.

As of early Friday afternoon, more than 136 flights had been delayed. That's approximately 20 percent of all scheduled flights. As of 1 p.m., 24 flights had already been canceled.

Around 1:10 p.m., the airport announced a ground stop due to lightning in the area.

12:59 p.m.

Flooding has started in Tarpon Springs as storm surge rises. 

12:32 p.m.

Severe thunderstorm warnings were issued Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties until 1:15 p.m. The main threats are strong winds up to 60 mph and hail smaller than dime/penny.

12:15 p.m.

There were severe thunderstorm warnings issued for Sumter, Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco counties.

12:06 p.m.

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is closed to all traffic. FHP closes it when sustained winds reach at least 40 miles per hour.

12 p.m.

Weeki Wachee Springs said it postponed its mermaid auditions to 2 p.m. on Friday, April 26. Those who signed up for an audition will be getting an email with the changes.

11:46 a.m.

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued until 12:15 p.m. for Citrus County.

11:16 a.m.

An 8-year-old girl was pronounced dead after a tree fell through a home in Leon County. It happened just after 8 a.m. along Old Woodville Highway. A 12-year-old boy in the same house was taken to the hospital, but his injuries are not life-threatening.

10:30 a.m.

The Sugar Sand Walk Exhibit at the Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival will close at noon, according to a news release. It will reopen once storms have passed.

10:25 a.m.

A tornado watch has been posted for much of the Tampa Bay region, including Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa.

It is in effect until 4 p.m. for Citrus, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota counties.

A few tornadoes are possible in and around the watch area, plus damaging winds near 70 mph into the afternoon.


WTSP meteorologists on Facebook: Bobby Deskins, Grant Gilmore, Ashley Batey, Ric Kearbey, Natalie Ferrari

WTSP meteorologists on Twitter: Bobby Deskins, Grant Gilmore, Ashley Batey, Ric Kearbey, Natalie Ferrari


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