- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TAMPA, FLA. (AP) - A strong line of storms spawned at least two tornadoes Tuesday as it tore across central Florida, scattering roof shingles, uprooting trees and forcing schools to evacuate children from trailer classrooms.

No injuries were immediately reported and the storms eventually moved offshore. It was the latest round of bad weather to hammer the South after heavy rain and strong winds Monday that hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and northern Florida, already reeling from storms and tornados last week.

The National Weather Service was still tallying damage information, but initial reports were that two tornadoes had touched down north of Tampa and two others may have struck in central and east Florida.

Twenty Florida counties were under a tornado watch for much of the day.

“To our knowledge, there’s been no true structure damage and no injuries,” said Jim Martin, Emergency Management Director for Pasco County north of Tampa, where at least one twister was spotted Tuesday morning,

Martin said about 25 homes suffered damage from high winds and one car was flipped over. Students were evacuated from trailer classrooms at some Tampa-area schools.

Emergency management officials in Marion County in north-central Florida received reports of possible tornado sightings, downed power lines and other damage, including one home under a fallen tree. No injuries were reported, a sheriff’s spokeswoman said.

Randi Cecil, 24, was on her porch in the town of Sparr, about 90 miles north of Orlando, when the wind turned gusty and trees started swaying. Then a tree cracked so loud that it sounded like a car crash and smashed into her neighbor’s bedroom.

“It was the most horrible feeling I ever went through,” Cecil said.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Suzanne Grant said 35,000 customers were without power as of noon, mostly in the Ocala area in central Florida and in southern Pasco County, just north of Tampa. The Tampa Electric Company said about 770 customers had lost power.

The storms also passed through the Orlando area, knocking down trees and blowing shingles off roofs, but no significant damage was immediately reported. Orlando International Airport reported delays of up to one hour.

A day after high winds were blamed for toppling trees that killed one person each in Tennessee and Georgia, more blustery conditions were reported across the region.

Atlanta-area crews were still clearing up fallen trees and working to restore power and traffic lights after squalls Monday pushed through Georgia. Thousands of utility customers in Georgia and Alabama were waiting for power to come back on.

__

Associated Press writers Mike Schneider in Orlando, Mitch Stacy in Tampa and Amanda Thomas in Montgomery, Ala., contributed to this report.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide