Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco County woman recalls harrowing flight from thunderstorm's havoc


Annmarie Davies heard banging on the roof, set her Whopper burger down and looked out the window. "It's hailing," said Davies, 45. The weather seemed fine about 6 p.m. Monday when she got to her house on Jessamine Road in north Pasco County. Her mobile home is surrounded by at least two dozen trees, which are lush and inviting — when the weather is nice.

The trees rattled. The hail was the size of quarters. Then the lightning kicked in. Davies took a swig of her Sprite and ate half of her burger, and then heard a terrible sound: sucking and cracking and shuddering all at once.

She peeked out her window.

The power pole on the corner lifted straight up in the air. It flew and twisted and then crashed down.

A massive, old gnarled tree next to it did the same thing — snapped, lifted, flew, fell.

Davies panicked.

"I have to leave," she told herself.

She sent a text message to her husband, in Jacksonville on business.

"It's bad," she wrote. "I've got to get out of here."

She grabbed her dog, a boxer named Brutus, and together they ran outside, in the rain, in the hail, in the lightning, everything swirling and crashing around them. The storm turned everything dark. The only light was from the bursts of electricity arcing from the broken pole.

Even while she was doing this, Davies knew it was not wise. But she couldn't stop herself. She and Brutus tore out of her yard in her blue Ford Fiesta and gunned it. A 55-mph speed limit sign, ripped from where it was posted a few streets north, flew in the wind past her window as she sped away. The storm passed quickly. It took Davies an hour to get to her daughter's house, which was only a few miles away.

Many roads were blocked with trees downed in the storm, which hit most severely just east of Interstate 75, south of the Pasco-Hernando border — Jessamine, James and Blanton roads. There were no reports of injuries.

Regan Harper, who works for the Pasco County Public Works Department, was out there till midnight clearing roads and was back out again at 7 a.m. Tuesday. He said at least a dozen trees fell.

"There were trees everywhere," he said. "It was a mess."

Officials said what happened Monday night was not a tornado. It was a storm with 60 mph straight-line winds, said Jennifer McNatt, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

"It was a nightmare," said Davies, who came back home to survey the damage Tuesday morning. Her home was intact. None of the trees bordering it fell. Her trash can blew away. Her heart still felt like it was beating too fast.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at or (727) 869-6229.

Pasco County woman recalls harrowing flight from thunderstorm's havoc 06/07/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 8:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman


    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion


    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.