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Tropical Storm Fay spares Hernando — again

Pat Darby, a journeyman lineman with Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, works Friday to repair power lines downed by fallen branches along Dorsey Smith Road.

LANCE ARAM ROTHSTEIN | Times

Pat Darby, a journeyman lineman with Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, works Friday to repair power lines downed by fallen branches along Dorsey Smith Road.

BROOKSVILLE — Once again, Tropical Storm Fay seemed poised to unleash its stormy fury upon Hernando County. Friday started with forecasts of heavy rains, powerful gusts and maybe even a storm surge.

It all turned out to be a tease.

"You all missed it coming in," said Todd Barron, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Ruskin. "And it looks like you'll miss it going out."

Fay seemed poised to make its way out of Florida today after a five-day drenching of the state, essentially bypassing Hernando despite numerous predictions to the contrary.

Florida's Atlantic coast residents weren't so lucky, as the storm caused tens of millions of dollars in damages with massive flooding.

With that damage in mind, Hernando residents started bracing for the storm early Friday morning after forecasters issued a tropical storm warning and a flood watch for the county. The National Weather Service predicted winds of 20 to 25 mph with gusts of up to 45 mph, 4 to 8 inches of rain and a surge of 1 to 2 feet for Hernando Beach.

But, much like earlier in the week, Hernando residents were spared from a serious soaking.

As of late Friday afternoon, Hernando had received about 2 to 4 inches of rain, with wind gusts of no more than 37 mph, causing only minor flooding and downed debris in coastal areas and around Brooksville.

The county Department of Public Works responded to calls for flooding and trees down on 13 roads, and they were quickly cleared and reopened.

Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative reported 27 power outages in Hernando on Friday, a much lower tally than the 2,039 customers who lost power in Citrus County.

"We're very pleased and happy right now," said Brenda Frazier, community relations coordinator for the county. "We're still going to monitor (the storm) and come back to do it all over again if we have to. But it looks like we're going to be fine."

Regardless, Hernando County joined 56 other Florida counties in signing a state of emergency declaration Friday. Frazier said the move was for the sole purpose of maintaining an eligible status for receiving federal reimbursement for storm-related expenses.

Forecasters said Fay should continue to move on a west-northwest course across North Florida and over the extreme northern Gulf of Mexico through today, possibly keeping tropical storm strength along the way. But Hernando was unlikely to see more than a couple of inches of rain today, Barron said.

Joel Anderson can be reached at joelanderson@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6120.

Tropical Storm Fay spares Hernando — again 08/22/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 23, 2008 11:50am]

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