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Winds whip up Tampa Bay area power outages

Winds gusting up to 40 mph knocked down power lines and trees Saturday, but the winds should die down today. It's expected to be breezy and cool, with temperatures in the upper 60s with 10-mph winds.

A cold front bringing strong winds led to scattered power outages Saturday that affected about 2,500 residences served by the Tampa Electric Co., said spokesman Rick Morera. About half of the outages occurred in the Lutz area, and most customers had power restored by evening.

The impact was less significant in Pinellas County, where more than 100 customers were without power Saturday afternoon.

Residents called in reports of downed trees, power lines and at least one tree fire.

Some of the strongest gusts were reported early Saturday morning. The St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport recorded a 44 mph gust about 8 a.m., said meteorologist Nick Petro of the National Weather Service.

The Sunshine Skyway bridge was closed to tall vehicles Saturday morning and early afternoon.

Semitrailer trucks and recreational vehicles could not cross the bridge from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., but Florida Highway Patrol troopers stopped turning them away in the afternoon as winds calmed.

The beginning of the week will bring warmer temperatures nearing 80 degrees on Wednesday, when a weak system may bring rain as it moves through the area.

Friday could bring another cold front, which Petro said is not unusual. At this time of year, the average high temperature in the Tampa Bay area is 75 degrees.

Winds whip up Tampa Bay area power outages 03/08/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 8, 2008 7:54pm]
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