Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rain leads to dozens of rush hour accidents

The wild weather that greeted morning commuters Thursday led to 76 crashes and at least 19 injuries in the Tampa Bay area during peak rush hour traffic, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

More than an inch of rain pounded the region, limiting visibility, forming ponds on roads and teaming with 40 mph wind gusts to make driving a nasty affair.

"People get crazy when it rains," said Marc Barese, 43, who saw three crashes as he drove into work in downtown St. Petersburg. "They forget how to drive."

From 6 to 9 a.m., the Florida Highway Patrol investigated 76 crashes, at least twice the number on a dry day. In the patrol's seven-county region, it was a total 102 crashes.

The problem was aggravated by a lack of rain in recent days, said Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins.

Oil and debris builds up on roads, making them even slipperier when rain finally falls, he said.

"The biggest thing is the drivers," said Gaskins.

The key: slow down, build extra time into the commute, use headlights and turn signals, limit lane changes and increase braking distance between other cars.

Three of four crashes are due to speed, Gaskins said.

During rush hour, AAA Auto Club South dispatches about 2,000 drivers throughout Florida to clear roads of crashed cars. That number spikes when streets begin flooding, but it didn't get that bad on Thursday, said Joanna Newton, a spokeswoman.

Cooler weather followed the front into the Tampa Bay area, with lows tonight expected to drop into the 40s. High temperatures through the weekend will struggle to top 70.

Tampa International Airport received 1.06 inches of rain Thursday morning. Plant City saw the most rain in Tampa Bay with about 2 inches. St. Petersburg had 1.28 inches at Albert Whitted Airport, while Clearwater had about 1.27 inches. Pasco and Hernando counties each saw rainfall of about 1 inch.

High winds and lightning also caused brief problems. About 16,000 customers were without power for about five minutes in Hillsborough County early Thursday, according to Rick Morera, Tampa Electric spokesman.

Progress Energy reported about 1,000 people briefly without power in Pinellas County.

Follow This Just In on Twitter.

Rain leads to dozens of rush hour accidents 03/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, March 10, 2011 6:26pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. County looks to regulate dog trainers and ban 'helicoptering'


    TAMPA — More than 20 people spoke in favor of a proposed ordinance that would require dog trainers and dog day cares to be licensed during a Hillsborough County Commission's meeting Wednesday.

    Sarge, a Shih Tzu-Pekinese mix, died in the arms of owner Lorie Childers after attending a training program in 2015. Childers now wants local and state legislation to regulate animal trainers and punish ones that harm dogs in their care. [Courtesy of Lorie Childers]
  2. Trump offered a grieving military father $25,000 in a call, but didn't follow through


    President Donald Trump, in a personal phone call to a grieving military father, offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said.

    President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting  with members of the Senate Finance Committee and his economic team on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 at the White House in Washington, D.C. [Pool photo by Chris Kleponis | Getty Images]
  3. State House leader Corcoran urges Congress to back Trump tax cuts


    TAMPA — At a time when President Donald Trump's relations with Congress grow frayed, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran lined up solidly with Trump Tuesday in urging Congress members from Florida to back the president's tax-cutting legislation.

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran backs the supply-side economic theory that cutting federal taxes for business owners would result in more jobs for others. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  4. Tampa's Oaklawn Cemetery placed on National Register of Historic Places

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — Oaklawn Cemetery, Tampa's first public graveyard, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

    Tampa's Oaklawn and neighboring St. Louis cemeteries just north of downtown have been added to the National Register of  Historic Places. LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
  5. Romano: Love to hear your Nazi speech, but I'm washing my hair

    Human Interest

    A year ago, he was racism's favorite twerp.

    Richard Spencer, center in sunglasses, and his supporters clash with Virginia State Police after hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the "alt-right" clashed with anti-fascist protesters and police in August in Charlottesville, Va. [Getty Images]