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Tornado Touchdowns Confirmed in Pinellas, Polk; Many Homes Damaged

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Bay area residents started their weekend with heavy rain, windy conditions and – in some cases – power outages and damaged homes.

Tornadoes have been confirmed in Pinellas and Polk counties, though no serious injuries have been reported.

Almost 10,000 Lakeland Electric customers lost power due to damage caused by a tornado which first touched down at Lakeland-Linder Airport and traveled north across I-4 and into Kathleen in Polk County.

Once the storm hit Kathleen, it damaged the roof of Kathleen Middle School. A tractor trailer overturned on I-4 westbound at Polk Parkway as the tornado crossed the roadway.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications Center received dozens of reports of damage to homes, windows, carports and barns.

Power lines and numerous trees were reported being down or damaged in locations that included that included Knights Station Road, Highland Grove Drive, Willow Wisp Drive and Sunnyside Drive.

One Polk County resident said: “It sounded like a train coming through there. I could hear it whistling through the window … it sounded like bombs going off.

“Just as quick as it came, it was gone,” she said.

According to initial law enforcement reports, there have been no serious injuries reported to the Sheriff’s Office or Polk County Fire Rescue.

Deputies remained on scene where there were power lines down in the roadway until Lakeland Electric could arrive and fix the downed lines as well as restore power.

Meanwhile, an EF-0 tornado with winds near 70 mph was confirmed in Pinellas County. It struck the Seminole area (Twelve Oaks Mobile Home Park) and produced minor damage.

The number of Duke Energy outages in Pinellas County was climbing before 8 a.m. There were about 2,000 customers without power in Seminole, with about 3,000 total in the county.

Tornado warnings were in effect much of Friday night, and tornado watches remain in effect until noon Saturday. A watch means tornadoes are possible in and near the area where it has been issued. A warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar and that there is imminent danger.

Several locations have experienced or may experience flooding. Those areas include: Clearwater, Largo, Seminole, Harbor Bluffs, Ridgecrest, Safety Harbor, Belleair, Redington Shores, Belleair Bluffs, Belleair Beach, Redington Beach, Indian Shores, North Redington Beach, Belleair Shore, Walsingham Park and Belleair Shores.

The worst of the weather happened east of Tropical Storm Nestor, which became the 16th named storm of the 2019 Atlantic stormseason on Friday afternoon.

Nestor is poorly organized, so the Spectrum Bay News 9 Weather Experts said don’t focus on the center of the storm — most of the significant weather is well east of the center.

By this afternoon, conditions will begin to dry out. There will still be a few showers leftover but the frequency will decrease and the threat for tornadoes will end. 

Another front approaches and stalls over our area Monday into Tuesday. This will lead to higher rain chances on Monday and Tuesday.

Stay with Spectrum Bay News 9 today for updates.

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