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Weather Service Confirms Tornado Formed During Powerful Storms Across Tampa Bay

Tree fallen during tornado in Pinellas Park
Pinellas Park Police Department
A tornado downed a large tree in Pinellas Park on Dec. 16, 2020.

The tornado originated in Largo and moved across Tampa into Polk County, causing widespread damage, according to the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday that storm damage in Pinellas Park and Lakeland on Wednesday night was the result of a tornado.

According to the weather service, an EF2 tornado with peak winds of 125 mph touched down in Seminole around 3:49 p.m., causing widespread damage in Pinellas Park.

The storm that spawned the tornado tracked near the Howard Frankland Bridge into Tampa – with a confirmed tornado near Tampa International Airport around 4:11 p.m. -- and north to Plant City and into Lakeland, according to the weather service.

In Pinellas County, forecasters say the tornado first formed at the Bayou Country Club in Largo, crossed Belcher Road, and caused the greatest damage at an industrial park. It destroyed two buildings and collapsed walls and damaged other structures.

Tweets posted by the Pinellas Park Police Department on Wednesday night showed widespread damage, and Pinellas Park Fire officials said up to 25 buildings off Endeavour Way sustained damage.

A light pole fell and debris was strewn across the Howard Frankland Bridge as the storm moved northeast, forecasters said.

The storm weakened when it moved onshore in Tampa, forecasters said, but re-intensified as it moved inland, forecasters said.

The weather service reported the tornado was at EF1 strength with peak winds of 110 mph as it moved across Hillsborough County, and downed trees and damaged homes in Lakeland.

Tornado activity was also reported in Plant City and Gibsonia in Polk County around 5 p.m., according to the weather service.

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