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FIRST DAY OF SPRING? // But winter sure is taking its sweet time leaving

As if 40-mph winds weren't enough, Marlene Trezza had a bigger problem Tuesday as she muscled her car across the Howard Frankland Bridge.

A camper top blew off a pickup truck and sailed into Trezza's brand new Nissan Maxima, shattering the windshield. The 37-year-old Tampa woman spent the afternoon calming her nerves and picking glass out of her hair and purse.

"It was so windy it was horrible," said Trezza, a classified ad manager for the Times. "I was very lucky. I saw it coming. Otherwise, it would have hit me in the face."

The coldest winter in 13 years mercifully came to an end Tuesday, and Tampa Bay finally got a glimpse of spring:

It looks a lot like winter.

Wind chill will send morning temperatures into the 20s and 30s much of this week, and the mercury won't climb much above the upper 50s and low 60s during the day. Things won't warm up again until Saturday.

"We're trying to say goodbye to winter, but it's taking its sweet time leaving," said Andy Nash, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

Chilly as it is, things could be worse. Much of the eastern third of the nation was hammered by rain and snow Tuesday, closing schools and knocking out power. Up to eight inches of snow fell in Kentucky.

But Florida wasn't exactly balmy, either.

The latest in a series of arctic fronts this year brought wind gusts of 45 mph at the base of the Sunshine Skyway bridge, along with rough seas and some beach erosion.

In Inverness, workers at the Citrus County Courthouse and the School District building were without power for nearly two hours after a tree limb fell into an electric switching arm, leaving 1,650 customers without power.

"We've had numerous scattered outages today due to the wind," said Florida Power spokeswoman Karen Raihill.

About the only people enjoying the storm Tuesday were surfers.

While it will be chilly most of this week, temperatures are not expected to drop to freezing in Tampa Bay, Nash said. Friday will probably be the chilliest morning, with frost possible in rural areas.

"For this time of year, it's about as chilly as it gets," Nash said.

_ Staff writer Amy Ellis contributed to this report.

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