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Tampa Bay Under Tornado Watch As Severe Storms Move Through Region


A line of heavy thunderstorms is crossing the Florida Peninsula this morning and is likely to continue throughout the day.

Portions of the Tampa Bay area were under a tornado warning until 6:15 a.m., and a Tornado Watch continues for much of Central Florida until 11 a.m. Power was knocked out early this morning to more than 6,000 Duke Energy customers in northern Pinellas County.

Damaging wind gusts up to 60 mph and embedded tornadoes are possible from the strongest cells, along with very heavy rain and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning.

Earlier this morning, the line of storms stretched from Daytona Beach to The Villages, then farther southwest toward Spring Hill and Clearwater. Thunderstorm cells embedded in this line were moving east at 40 mph.

The storms are forecast to move through Tampa and St. Petersburg between 6-7 a.m., and cross the I-4 corridor between Lakeland and Orlando from 7-8 a.m.

Meteorologist Ray Hawthorne is tracking the line of thunderstorms and says multiple hazards are likely across our area today.

"Strong, damaging winds and isolated tornadoes continue to pose a threat from this line of thunderstorms,” Hawthorne said. “Of increasing concern is the amount of heavy rainfall and potential flash flooding. Some areas may receive 3 to 6 inches of rain according to the latest model forecasts.”

Hawthorne says periodic bouts of thunderstorms may continue into this evening, with some improvement after midnight.

Updates from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network will be available on the Florida Storms mobile app and social media accounts.

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network meteorologist Ray Hawthorne contributed to this report.

I wasn't always a morning person. After spending years as a nighttime sports copy editor and page designer, I made the move to digital editing in 2000. Turns out, it was one of the best moves I've ever made.
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