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Another round of storms hits Tampa Bay

A line of fast-moving storms blew through Tampa Bay on Tuesday morning, bringing strong wind, heavy rain and hail.

Residents from Hudson to Tampa reported half-inch to pea-sized hail. That's to be expected, said National Weather Service forecaster Charlie Paxton, and nickel-sized hail was reported early Tuesday in Lakeland.

The Hernando County Airport recorded a wind gust of 61 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

In Spring Hill, Judy O'Neal's aluminum roof was blown off as she was lying in bed listening to the storm Tuesday morning. She said she heard a loud, rumbling noise.

"It lifted that whole side up like a big pancake," she said, motioning to the roof.

She said the roof, made of a thin aluminum sheet, fell to the ground between her and her neighbor's home.

In Masaryktown, a tree fell on a roof, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office. Deputies also reported multiple downed trees and wires.

The storms came just days after heavy storms damaged several homes and left hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

The long line of storms, moving about 40 to 50 mph, first hit Florida's Panhandle overnight, producing winds above 70 mph.

The system first hit Hernando and Pasco counties before moving into the rest of Tampa Bay.

The storms could bring up to an inch of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

Progress Energy reported almost 5,900 customers were without power about 9:30 a.m.

Tampa Electric reported more than 2,000 customers without power about 9:45 a.m. Most of those affected were in Plant City and Brandon.

Residents of Pinellas Hope again sought shelter in vacant apartments and a community center at the tent city for homeless people in mid Pinellas. The past week's storm wiped out 100 of the 250 tents there. Another 50 were found damaged and need to be replaced, said Sheila Lopez, chief operating officer of Catholic Charities.

"We can't stand another rain storm — any rain is too much," Lopez said Tuesday.

But the community has donated at least $30,000 to help repair the complex. "And I've got a lot more than that," said Lopez, who expects to have a more complete tally Wednesday.

The charity still needs donations of clothes, shoes and sleeping bags for the camp at 5726 126th Ave. N.

St. Pete Fire & Rescue responded to a few downed wires and blown transformers, said spokesman Lt. Joel Granata.

Jackie Bogash, a Hudson resident, saw half-inch hail, heavy rain and strong wind whip by her home Tuesday morning.

But her main concern wasn't for herself. It was for the two baby Cardinals, too young to fly, that were trapped in their nest hanging from a walkway. Hail started to pepper the ground, and rain poured off the roof into the nest.

"They were going to drown," she said.

Bogash moved the birds' nest to a more protected location near her storm door.

The storms eventually passed. The birds kept chirping.

Reporter David DeCamp contributed to this report.

Another round of storms hits Tampa Bay 04/05/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 1:19pm]
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