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Tornado Risk, Wind And Rain Passing Through Tampa Bay, Most Of Florida

Dec 20, 2018

High winds and tornadoes passed through the Tampa Bay area Thursday morning, as yet another strong storm system sweeps across the state.

This will be the fourth front in as many weeks, and it could be the strongest.

Tornado warnings started in Manatee County before 8 a.m. and continued throughout the region, including Polk County where one tornado has been reported. The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network says the highest risk for the Tampa Bay area region is through about 3 p.m.

WUSF will be updating you throughout the day on 89.7 FM and online.

As of 9 a.m. Thursday, four tornado warnings had already been issued by the National Weather Service across portions of central Florida with the first complex of storms. A tornado was reported by emergency managers to have caused damage 9 miles northwest of Myakka City at 7:40 a.m. 

This first round of cells are expected to move northeast along the I-4 corridor toward the Space Coast by late morning.

The Tornado Watch was issued primarily in anticipation of the next round of thunderstorms likely to move in from the Gulf of Mexico ahead of a strong front. The leading edge of this squall line will be capable of producing destructive winds and isolated tornadoes. Rotating super cells, the kind that often produce strong tornadoes, are also possible in advance of the squall line across sections of southwest and central Florida.

Based on the most recent forecast data, the most likely arrival times of the next round of severe weather are listed below...

  • Crystal River to Dunnellon - 10 a.m. to Noon
  • Tampa metro to Ocala - 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Sarasota to Orlando to Daytona Beach - 12 to 2 p.m.
  • Fort Myers to Sebring to Melbourne - 2 to 5 p.m.
  • Naples to West Palm Beach - 4 to 8 p.m.
  • Key West to Miami to Fort Lauderdale - 6 to 10 p.m.

In addition to the chance of tornadoes, severe thunderstorms could also produce damaging wind gusts up to 70 mph and small hail in the advised area.