A strong line of storms descended over the Tampa Bay area late Wednesday night, bringing high winds, lightning and thunderstorms.
Several severe weather warnings were issued for much of the region, although no major damage or injuries were reported as of 9 p.m.
Still, many schools cancelled afternoon activities, and construction companies postponed work on several roads in preparation of the weather.
"We're expecting a busy night," said Anthony Reynes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
A tornado watch was issued Wednesday for Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties as the ugly weather that was predicted for days finally made its way into the Tampa Bay area — just in time for rush hour traffic.
The low-pressure system moving from Texas across the Gulf of Mexico hit the Florida Panhandle around 1 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.
The tornado watch will be in effect until 10 p.m. for five counties. The watch means conditions are favorable for tornadoes, while a warning means a tornado has been spotted and you should take shelter. No warning was issued.
Dark and stormy skies hung over Pasco and Hernando mid-afternoon Wednesday, but the worst of the weather will happen overnight, said National Weather Service meteorologist Nicole Carlisle.
"There's still a still a slight risk for maybe an isolated tornado or two," she said. "It has already produced a few unconfirmed tornadoes in the Panhandle, and they're currently under a tornado watch."
People should stay out of the water entirely, Bay News 9's Juli Marquez said. Around 10 p.m. Wednesday, a high surf advisory was issued.
"Typically, that means high waves and the threat of rip currents," Marquez said. "A lot of times, people get up in the morning and think, 'Okay, this doesn't look too bad,' and they don't realize how quickly things can get bad."
By Thursday morning, the storms should be clearing up, but the weather system will stall over South and Central Florida, keeping the area wet. A cold front will move in, bringing temperatures to the 50s and 60s by the weekend.