Tropical Storm Andrea Soaks Bay Area
Andrea, the first tropical storm of the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, is drenching the Bay Area, bringing some tornado damage along with it.
The entire Tampa Bay area is under a tropical storm warning. There's also a flood watch through 8 p.m. and a tornado watch until 11 a.m.
The National Hurricane Center reported Andrea was about 160 miles west of Tampa Bay at 7 a.m., moving to the northeast at 14 miles per hour, with 60 MPH sustained winds with stronger gusts. It's expected to make landfall north of Levy County by Thursday evening.
Bay News 9 reports a confirmed tornado hit Sun City Center in Hillsborough County and Myakka City in Manatee County early Thursday morning, causing minor property damage and several downed power lines.
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.
The Tampa Bay Times says that the National Weather Service spotted a tornado moving toward Tarpon Springs shortly before 8 a.m. and issued a tornado warning for northwestern Pinellas and western Pasco. That warning expired at 8:15 a.m.
About 1 to 2 inches of rain has fallen already, with the National Weather Service saying some areas south of Interstate 4 receiving 2 to 4 inches. As much as 3 to 7 inches of rain is forecast for today, along with flooding, wind gusts of up to 40 MPH and possible tornadoes.
Parts of Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard were temporarily closed due to flooding earlier Thursday, but have since re-opened. There are also reports of accidents and delays on a number of Bay Area roads for the morning commute.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, the major utilities are all reporting scattered minor power outages.
Duke Energy reported about 388 customers were without power in the Country Haven neighborhood of Pinellas Park. Between Madeira Beach and Treasure Island, 151 customers did not have electricity shortly before 8 a.m. Another 179 customers were without power near Eiland Road and Gall Boulevard in Zephyrhills, Duke Energy reported. An outage near Gall Boulevard and Chancey Road had affected 757 customers earlier in the day. Tampa Electric reported shortly before 8 a.m. that 99 percent of its customers had power. Just 272 customers were without electricity, including 108 near Sun City Center. Earlier in the morning, a little more than 1,000 Tampa Electric customers had experienced outages in Hillsborough.
As of 8 a.m., the only reported school closure is Stetson University's Tampa Law Center, which has canceled classes until 5:30 this afternoon.
However, Andrea has affected a number of local graduations. Countryside High School has moved today's graduation from Bright House Networks field to the school's auditorium, causing split ceremonies. Last names A through L will graduate at 9:30 a.m. and M through Z will graduate at 11:30 a.m.
It's a similar story for St. Pete's Lakewood High, which postponed its ceremony from tonight to tomorrow morning, and moved it into the school auditorium. Due to the limited size of the auditorium, they've also split the ceremony in half - girls will graduate at 8 a.m. and boys at 10 a.m.