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In Pinellas County, most power restored after violent thunderstorms

Power has been restored to nearly all of the 11,000 homes and businesses that lost electricity during the heavy thunderstorms that tore through the area around midnight Tuesday. Cleanup crews continued to wrangle shattered trees, twisted pool decks and mobile home roofs as far north as Port Richey.

The storms damaged a few homes and littered roads with tree branches and palm fronds. A small section of Lealman appeared to be the literal eye of the quick-moving but violent storms.

Trees were down and 15 homes damaged at the Southernaire Mobile Home Park at 2560 62nd Ave. N in Lealman. The damage occurred about midnight, according to the Lealman Fire Department. Four homes received major damage.

Rescuers said residents described heavy hail and winds that sounded like "a train was coming through."

National Weather Service meteorologist Charlie Paxton said 50 mph winds were measured in Pinellas County Tuesday night and the Lealman damage is suspected to have been caused by a downburst, or sudden rush of wind out of a thunderstorm. But he "certainly wouldn't rule out" a small, brief tornado that would have eluded the agency's instruments.

Progress Energy spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said 7,000 homes and businesses were still without power at 6:45 a.m. Only a couple of hundred remained at 1:30 p.m.

"It was typical severe thunderstorm-type damage," she said. "We didn't have any problems with poles or lightning, but lots of fuses and wind damage to trees."

Between an inch and an inch and a half of rain fell in a narrow band from just south of the Gandy Bridge area across to Clearwater.

Times staff writer Ron Brackett contributed to this story.

In Pinellas County, most power restored after violent thunderstorms 06/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, June 27, 2009 11:34am]
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