1 A.M. UPDATE: A tornado watch is in effect throughout the bay area until 7 a.m.
Meteorologists at Bay News 9 are updating their website and blogging throughout the night at www.baynews9.com
TAMPA — Storms less daunting than expected rolled in from the Gulf of Mexico Saturday afternoon, the first band soaking parts of the Tampa Bay area with nearly an inch of rain.
Several inches were expected but didn't materialize by late Saturday afternoon.
Black clouds appeared on the western side of St. Petersburg about 2:15 p.m. Fifth Avenue NE turned into a parking lot, as people who had been at the Mainsail Arts Festival tried to beat the weather. The annual outdoor event at Vinoy Park is scheduled to continue through Sunday, event organizers said.
Meanwhile, on Beach Drive, servers were gamely trying to finish providing outdoor meals at Cassis restaurant as heavy gusts whipped in from the south.
The back edge of the first band moved through Pinellas County at about 3:30 p.m., said Bay News 9 meteorologist Brian McClure.
A brief lull was expected to be followed by another band Saturday evening. The storms should be gone by Sunday.
"Tomorrow there is a chance for rain but nothing like today and tonight," Kacmarik said.
Tampa International Airport experienced just brief delays, according to spokeswoman Janet Zink.
"It's business as usual," Zink said.
All other areas of Hillsborough County reported receiving less than an inch of rain as of 4 p.m., Bay News 9 reported. In Pinellas County, Palm Harbor was the only community to accumulate more than an inch of rain.
The rainfall was slightly heavier in Pasco and Hernando Counties, though public safety officials reported no major incidents. New Port Richey, Weeki Wachee, Spring Hill and Ridge Manor all reported an inch of rain.