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Authorities issue warnings of high winds and downed wires

9 p.m. UPDATE: Progress Energy reports about 2,000 customers without power tonight. Tampa Electric Co. reports about 2,200 outages, about 1,700 of which are in the Temple Terrace area. Both companies said crews are working to repair the outages. Expect the same high winds Sunday with more rain in some areas. Rain chances are 70 percent Sunday and 40 percent Monday.

6 p.m. UPDATE: Hillsborough deputies have re-opened all traffic lanes on W Hillsborough Avenue and Kelly Road. Mulrennan Road also has been-reopened.

Authorities are warning drivers and residents about high winds around the Tampa Bay area that have caused trees and wires to fall and left some without power on Saturday.

In Hillsborough County, authorities said power lines are down and traffic signals are out on W Hillsborough Avenue at Hanley and Kelly roads.

Westbound Hillsborough Avenue between those two roads is closed; eastbound traffic is down to one lane.

Sheriff's deputies also shut down Mulrennan Road just south of SR 60 in Valrico because of downed lines.

"Deputies are asking the media to remind motorists to use extreme caution as they travel and be mindful of potential downed wires and trees that may be obstructing the roadways," the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.

Dispatchers in Pinellas County did not report any major weather-related incidents.

There were, however, several pockets of power outages around the county, according to the Progress Energy outage map.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Pamela Oakley-Lisk said that as of about 3:15 p.m., about 750 customers throughout Pinellas were without power.

Many were expected to be restored within the next couple hours.

"It's kind of been a busy day," said Oakley-Lisk. "It's most likely trees and things interfering with lines."

Weather officials predicted high winds and moisture to stick around through the weekend.

They said the high pressure system that kept the area dry last week has moved from the area.

In its place, a low pressure system from the Caribbean has moved north, bringing wind and moisture along with it. Heavy rains are still expected across the state, though the Tampa Bay area isn't supposed to be hit as hard as the east coast.

"This is exactly what we expected," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure. "It's pretty windy no matter where you are in the region."

McClure said areas in east Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties have had a steady rain for most of the day.

Winds have been about 20 to 25 miles per hours in most places, he said.

"It's going to be much of the same tomorrow," he said.

Authorities issue warnings of high winds and downed wires 10/08/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 8, 2011 9:24pm]
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