1. Local Weather

Heavy rains likely all week

Heavy thunderstorms accompanied by lightning pounded parts of the Tampa Bay area for several hours Tuesday, flooding streets, imperiling traffic and dropping as much as 3 inches of rain.

The National Weather Service issued a hazardous weather outlook for several counties early Tuesday, including Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Hillsborough counties.

Large hail, damaging winds, and frequent lightning were expected.

Law enforcement officials were urging caution for motorists as gusting winds and rain were making for a rough commute. Dozens of accidents were reported throughout the region.

The storms are expected to continue through Friday, with about a 50 percent chance of rain each day, said Juli Marquez, Bay News 9 meteorologist.

Several areas across the Tampa Bay area got between 1 and 3 inches of rain Tuesday morning when the downpours picked up about 3 a.m., she said.

Parts of the region got more rain early Tuesday than they did in the entire month of April, according to the National Weather Service.

More than two inches of rain were reported at Tampa International Airport early Tuesday, compared to 1.6 inches for the rest of April.

The biggest concern is flooded streets in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, but Marquez urged residents to keep an eye out for other damage. As of early Tuesday, no serious storm damage had been reported.

On Tuesday morning, the intersection of Bay to Bay and Bayshore boulevards was temporarily closed by high flood waters, Tampa police said.

At 9 a.m., Bayshore still had heavy flooding around the W Mason Street intersection.

The heavy downpours were caused by several storms that moved into the region at the same time, said National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Davis.

"The fact that the storm or multiple storms developed and moved over the exact same area," he said, "that was the more unique event."

While the storms themselves weren't a surprise, the impact was amplified because the system slowed as it moved over Tampa Bay, causing heavier flooding, Marquez said.

In Hillsborough, nearly 5,000 customers were reportedly without power early Tuesday as heavy storms swept through Tampa Bay, according to Tampa Electric's website.

Of that number, more than 2,000 customers were affected near Plant City.

In Pinellas, more than 700 customers, including in Pinellas Park and Dunedin, did not have electricity, according to Duke Energy's website.

Some law enforcement agencies were helping power companies fix downed power lines. In Dunedin, Duke Energy was working on downed lines at Michigan Boulevard and Yale Avenue.