Tropical Storm Andrea 1:30 p.m. Update
Tropical Storm Andrea has brought heavy rain, sometimes gusty wind and a number of tornadoes to the Tampa Bay area Thursday, and activity is expected to continue as the storm moves through the Gulf.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the entire Bay area until further notice, and a Tornado Watch is in place until 10 p.m. for the region. There's also a Flood Watch until 8 p.m. and urban and small stream flood advisories for Pinellas County until 2:30 p.m. and Manatee County until 5 p.m.
The National Weather Service in Ruskin says storm surge along the coast will be 2-4 feet north of Tampa Bay and 1-2 feet south of Tampa Bay, while hazardous rip currents along the coast will continue through Friday.
Tornadoes caused damage in Hillsborough, Manatee and Pinellas County, knocking down tree limbs and causing some damage to buildings and pool screens.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that the National Weather Service identified a waterspout on radar near Gulfport shortly after 10 a.m. It apparently came ashore on Beach Boulevard and became a tornado, with high winds that caused a 200-year-old cedar tree to collapse into Yummy's restaurant. No one was injured.
"We have reports of damage from downed trees on the roads, across a car, and across a restaurant roof, so yes, we are calling it a tornado right now," said weather service meteorologist Rodney Wynn.
Earlier Thursday morning, Bay News 9 reported a tornado hit Sun City Center in Hillsborough County and Myakka City in Manatee County.
There were reports of some damage, including a porch damaged in Sun City Center, damage to a shed in Myakka City, tree limbs blown down, lawn furniture blown around and a screened-in pool enclosure damaged.
Officials at the Humane Society of Pinellas say the adoptable dog kennels at its Clearwater facility sustained some roof damage. While the dogs were a little wet, none were injured.
Flooding has also been reported in parts of Shore Acres and on 50th Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets in St. Petersburg.
In addition to a number of cancelations and delays, particularly high school graduations, Andrea has also forced the temporary closure of both the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and some lanes of Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa.
At 11:45 a.m., the Florida Highway Patrol said that "Due to sustained wind speeds in excess of 40 mph along the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the span will be closed until wind speeds and weather conditions permit safe passage." Motorists can monitor the FHP's Traffic Crash Report for updates.
Northbound Bayshore Boulevard is also currently closed between Bay to Bay and Platt Street, while Southbound Bayshore remains open. City of Tampa officials say there is a high likelihood that Bayshore will continue to be closed due to high water throughout the afternoon and into the evening commute.
Scattered power outages and flight delays at Tampa International Airport have also been reported.
As of noon, Andrea is located at 28.2 N, 84.3 W with winds of 60 mph. The storm is moving northeast at 15 mph and is about 100 miles west-northwest of Tampa. Gusts of 48 mph winds were reported in St. Petersburg.
Rainfall amounts (in inches) from Tropical Storm Andrea, as of 11 a.m.
(according to Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure)
- 4.82 Largo
- 3.71 Gulfport
- 2.98 Clearwater
- 2.74 New Port Richey
- 2.47 Tampa International Airport