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Heavy rain fouls commute while strong winds knock out power for thousands

TAMPA — Strong winds and heavy rain knocked out power Wednesday night and Thursday morning for thousands of Tampa Bay area residents and heavy rain made for a nasty morning for commuters.

Tampabay.com's live trafic report showed numerous accidents throughout the region.

More than 5,000 Progress Energy customers lost power overnight and by 7 a.m. 600 remained in the dark, said Cherie Jacobs, company spokeswoman. Power was not expected to be off much longer, she said.

About 15,000 TECO customers also lost power. By 8 a.m., TECO reported about 800 customers were still without power.

The cause likely was 45 mph wind gusts, said Brian McClure, Bay News 9 meteorologist.

"If you can delay your commute, I would," McClure said. "It's pretty nasty out there right now."

There was minor street flooding in one of the heaviest rains in recent months, but the strong rain was expected to ease by late morning. By noon, the rain should be gone, McClure said.

The rain came with a typical winter cold front, he said. The front will prevent the day from warming up very much, but temperatures won't drop significantly.

Temperatures should reach 65 degrees. The low temperature for Pinellas and Hillsborough counties Thursday night was expected to be 45 degrees. Hernando and Pasco counties will drop to the low 40s.

Wednesday night and Thursday morning's heavy rain was the heaviest the Tampa Bay area has seen in months.

St. Petersburg saw 3.74 inches in last four months of 2010, below the normal of 12.75 inches for that period. Tampa's average for those four moths was 4.24, below the normal of 14.87.

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Heavy rain fouls commute while strong winds knock out power for thousands 01/06/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 6, 2011 9:17am]
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