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Squall leaves thousands without power in Pasco

A storm blew trees onto two cars parked at the CARES center in the Beacon Woods subdivision at Bayonet Point.

BILL STEVENS | Times

A storm blew trees onto two cars parked at the CARES center in the Beacon Woods subdivision at Bayonet Point.

DADE CITY — Miles Turner and his wife, Elizabeth, were watching television in their home on Paradise Lane Wednesday afternoon when the power died.

Outside, the metal garage door shuddered and, suddenly, the rain poured thick and fast. The Turners could hear the big oak trees outside cracking and falling, thumping to the ground.

"Uh oh," said Mr. Turner, 82. "I think we have a tornado here."

The National Weather Service had no reports of tornadoes in Pasco County, but meteorologist Eric Oglesby said the squall brought wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph.

The fury on Paradise Lane was done within 15 seconds. There was no time for the Turners to do anything other than hope their house would be spared.

Mr. Turner stepped outside.

His house, which he and his wife have lived in for 17 years, seemed okay. The new roof he put on in September survived.

But the neighborhood was a mess.

The road was blocked.

Live wires were down.

To the back of his house, a tree crushed a neighbor's porch.

To the front of his house, across the street, another tree fell on the back of a neighbor's house.

"Everybody is okay," Mr. Turner said.

There appeared to be no serious injuries inflicted from the storm, said Doug Tobin, spokesman for the Pasco County Sheriff's Office. Like thousands of people in Pasco, Turner's power was still out hours after the storm passed.

At 6 p.m., Progress Energy reported 2,735 customers without power in New Port Richey, Hudson, Land O'Lakes, and Zephyrhills. All of San Antonio and the unincorporated county area surrounding it appeared to be dark, according to Tampa Electric, which reported 8,391 customers without power. David Lambert, spokesman for the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative, said 2,050 customers scattered throughout the county were without power.

One tree fell on a couple of cars in Beacon Woods in Bayonet Point, and one tree fell on a car in Moon Lake, the Sheriff's Office said. Charles Rhall, 77, lives on Barrington Lane in Port Richey and said the storm was so fierce it shredded his neighbor's metal shed and scattered it on his lawn.

Capt. David Duff of the Dade City Police Department said many trees were down in the city, but none appeared to land on cars or structures. A large branch partially blocked State Road 52 in front of the fairgrounds. There were some power lines down. But no injuries were reported.

Hopefully that luck continues. Oglesby said today's storms, which could be just as severe, may hit a larger part of the Tampa Bay area.

Erin Sullivan can be reached at esullivan@sptimes.com.

Squall leaves thousands without power in Pasco 03/30/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 8:39pm]
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