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More water spouts spotted off St. Petersburg

A water spout can be seen to the left of the tower at 200 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg on Tuesday evening. The tail of the spout is kicking up a faintly visible spray of water in Tampa Bay at the bottom left of the photo.
Published Jun. 26, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — For the second evening in a row, a wave of severe weather launched a series of water spouts off the eastern coast of Pinellas County Tuesday night.

Water spouts were reported from as far north as the Gandy area south to around the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. One water spout at one point danced just off downtown St. Petersburg. Bay News 9 reported that it briefly came ashore and dissipated.

There were no reports of damage or injuries from the funnel clouds.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning about 8:45 p.m. The warning expired a half-hour later, but forecasters issued a severe thunderstorm warning and flood advisory that lasted until later in the night.

Severe storms carrying rapid-fire lightning shifted west across the county, dumping nearly 2 inches of rain in some areas. There also were reports of quarter-sized hail in some places.

Duke Energy reported nearly 2,300 customers were without power about 11 p.m.

But the talk of the night was the water spouts. Most were small, though their tails stretched high into the air as they swirled beneath bruise-colored clouds.

One family said they saw five funnel clouds hovering at once over Tampa Bay as they drove to St. Petersburg from Manatee County. They came from Parrish to have dinner and considered turning around to go home when they saw the twisters.

"I have never seen anything like that," said Marella Lutes, 38.

"I was a little freaked out. I was thinking, 'If they get any longer, we need to get away from here.' "

The tornadoes lasted only a few minutes.

On Monday night, a number of water spouts were seen in the Gandy area and at least one came ashore near Weedon Island. The storm downed trees, tossed a dock onto a house and ripped a lanai off another home.

It's rare for water spouts to form in the same area on consecutive days. But water spouts can form on any hot summer day in Florida, so having them two days in a row is certainly possible, said Michael Lewis, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

Could today make it three days in a row? It could happen.

"We'll have thunderstorms and showers in the area, and we may see some waterspouts," Lewis said. "But that's any summer day."

Bay News 9 reported severe weather could start occurring earlier in the day over the next few days and perhaps even in the mornings by the end of the week.

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