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Tropical Depression Beryl brings downpours over northern counties

Drivers on Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville deal with heavy rain Tuesday morning. Minor flooding left some Hernando County roads difficult to navigate.

DANNY VALENTINE | Times

Drivers on Cortez Boulevard in Brooksville deal with heavy rain Tuesday morning. Minor flooding left some Hernando County roads difficult to navigate.

Rain continued to pound Tampa Bay's northern counties Tuesday afternoon, dropping more than 6 inches in some areas.

Pasco and Hernando counties were under a flood watch until 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Forecasters said the system, associated with Tropical Depression Beryl, could come with isolated thunderstorms packing winds up to 60 miles per hour.

Minor flooding, downed trees and power outages had been reported throughout the day with more rain expected. School buses in Hernando County were delayed at least 30 minutes Tuesday morning because of the inclement conditions.

"It's pretty intense," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker.

Brooksville saw more than 6.3 inches of rain in the 24-hour period ending at 1 p.m. The Hernando County Airport reported 3.06 inches, while Weeki Wachee had seen about 4.52 inches. Heavy rain was still falling at 2 p.m.

St. Leo had the highest reported rainfall in Pasco County with 5.60 inches. Port Richey had the next highest at 1.28 inches.

Pinellas and Hillsborough counties saw considerably less rain.

The heaviest rainfall in the area was recorded to the north of Tampa Bay in Citrus County. Sugermill Woods had seen nearly 10 inches by 1 p.m.

The amount of rain in a given area will depend largely on how well the bands of rain hold together as they move onshore, forecasters said.

During morning rush hour, commuters on the Suncoast Parkway in Hernando and Pasco counties battled dense rainfall and were forced to slow down and flip on their hazard lights at times.

Along the Wesley Chapel-New Tampa border, more than 4,000 customers lost power when the storm hit a Tampa Electric substation, said TECO spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs.

The outage was called in about 11:30 a.m. and left most of the area in the dark for about three hours, Jacobs said.

Thousands of customers in Hernando temporarily lost power in the storm.

More than 1,300 customers around Brooksville were without power as of 2:45 p.m. Power was expected to be restored by about 4 p.m.

The Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative reported roughly 3,000 customers lost power temporarily Tuesday morning because of the storm.

Points south, including southern Pasco County and most of Hillsborough and Pinellas, were only expected to get up to an inch of rain for the day, meteorologists said.

Humidity was expected to remain high throughout the day. And areas where rainfall was scarce won't see much relief from the heat — lows Tuesday clocked in at about 80 degrees throughout the area, nearly 10 degrees above average.

"It's warm and muggy where it hasn't rained, and it's a little cooler where it has," said Linker said.

High winds, gusting up to 20 mph, were also expected to roll through the region throughout the day.

The winds could be traced to Tropical Depression Beryl, which was moving north toward Savannah, Ga., early Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Beryl came onshore over the weekend in Jacksonville as a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph — just 4 mph short of a category one hurricane. But it has been weakening ever since.

The system had sustained winds of about 30 mph, which were not expected to change much Tuesday as it moves north.

Experts said the center of the storm could reach the coast of South Carolina by early Wednesday morning and move back over the Atlantic later that day. Once the system hits water, according to the National Hurricane Center, it may regain its tropical storm status.

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

Tropical Depression Beryl brings downpours over northern counties 05/29/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 2:56pm]
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