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Storms Knock Out Power, Down Trees, Flood Streets

A line of severe thunderstorms that caused at least 18 deaths in the Georgia and Mississippi brought strong winds and heavy rain to the Tampa Bay area, knocking down trees and flooding streets Sunday night.

A tornado watch was issued for the entire Tampa Bay area after the powerful fast-moving squall-line caused damage across the southeast. Tornado warnings were issued in Pasco and Hernando counties.

The storms hit the Tampa Bay area between 6 and 9 p.m. bringing heavy winds and rain but no tornadoes were reported.

Flooding was reported in Hernando and Pasco counties. Fallen tree limbs and roof damage was also reported.

Other areas of Florida were hit harder.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum said the city was bringing in additional crews to restore power to over 30,000 customers who lost electricity Sunday.

Gillum told The Tallahassee Democrat (http://on.tdo.com/2jhnGkp ) that state officials quickly coordinated with local authorities to clear road debris. Forecasters said the storms hadn't caused as much damage as Hurricane Hermine in September.

Palm Beach County officials closed two schools Monday because storms had bent fences and scattered bleachers and other sports equipment into nearby streets.

Volusia County Emergency Management Director Jim Judge said a funnel cloud was spotted Sunday evening near Daytona Internat ional Speedway, but there were no reports of tornadoes touching down.

Minor flooding was reported across Florida's Panhandle.

Forecasters had warned that tornadoes could be strong and long-lived. The tornado watch, which means conditions are favorable for tornadoes, extended from Ocala to Sarasota.  

Fifteen people were killed by the storm system early Sunday in southern Georgia and four died Saturday in Mississippi.

The weather service's Storm Prediction Center warned on its website of a "dangerous outbreak of tornadoes" on Sunday afternoon and pressed for residents to prepare. Long track tornadoes, somewhat rare and capable of staying on the ground for 20 or more miles, were possible.

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