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Rain, wind descend on Tampa Bay as cold front moves through

Commuters Wednesday morning got a wet, windy and cooler drive.

Light rains and winds of 15 to 20 mph hit the Tampa Bay area early Wednesday as a cold front that could drop temperatures 30 degrees passed through the area.

Strong gusts and rain briefly knocked out power for thousands of Tampa Bay residents, ripped siding off buildings and jostling vehicles crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge before dawn.

About 2,700 Pasco residents and 1,000 Pinellas residents temporarily lost power as the system raced through the area, according to Progress Energy.

High winds ripped about 10 or 15 panels off the facade of Price Busters Foods on 34th Street S in St. Petersburg, according to a store manager. She said it didn't cause any problems. Wind also damaged the exterior of the nearby Skyview Motel.

The weather caused an electrical short at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in downtown St. Petersburg, cutting power, filling part of the hotel with smoke and prompting a brief evacuation.

The area will dry out Wednesday afternoon as the cold front passes. Temperatures will peak in the low to mid 60s, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez.

"Despite seeing some sunshine this morning, it's really not going to help us out," she said.

Daytime highs are expected to hover in the upper 60s or low 70s through the week for most of the Tampa Bay area.

Overnight lows will be in the 40s or 50s, with the coldest weather Thursday morning, when temperatures will be in the low 40s in Tampa and in the 30s in parts of Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

But this cold snap will be brief: The high temperature is expected to be 70 both Saturday and Sunday.

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Rain, wind descend on Tampa Bay as cold front moves through 12/01/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 9:33am]

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