TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay area was in for quite a ride as a line of storms moved in earlier Wednesday afternoon. One storm in particular that formed over central Pinellas County caused severe damage and at least one confirmed tornado as it moved east through Hillsborough and ended in Polk County.
The severe weather began at about 3:50 p.m. when a tornado warning was issued for central Pinellas County.
Radar indicated a tornado was spotted in the area of 66th Street. Debris was also seen.
Photos coming in from the Pinellas Park area showed damaged roofs, the sides of buildings stripped, and tree limbs and power lines down. About 14,000 people in Pinellas County were without power at one point. Duke Energy says more than 25 power poles were damaged or destroyed in the Pinellas Park and Largo areas. Crews are already working on repairs and replacements, but some outages may extend into tomorrow, according to a news release.
As the storm continued to move east, conditions in the Feather Sound and Carillon areas started to deteriorate.
Near the Spectrum Bay News 9 studio, winds reached up to 50 mph. Damage was reported in the area of Ulmerton and Carillon.
The system continued east, producing a waterspout near the Howard Frankland Bridge.
The storm then passed into Hillsborough County, prompting multiple tornado warnings through the 4 p.m. hour and into the 5 p.m., when it finally reached northeast Hillsborough County.
The worst of the storm was located just north of Plant City.
It then continuned this track, moving north of Interstate 4 and State Road 39A over multiple farms in the area.
Finally, the storm moved into Polk County in the Kathleen area, which was hit hard by a tornado in October 2019.
While live on the air covering the storm, our cameras at 98th and I-4 showed flashes from power lines and the possibility of a tornado on the ground.
At about 5:45 p.m., the storm had finally tapered off, and more reports of damage began to come in. Reports also came in of flipped vehicles. According to Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay, it would generally take an EF-2 tornado to do that, but the classification of any tornado won't be determined until later.