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Rain, flooding return to saturated Tampa Bay area

Ye Tampa Bay area citizens of faint heart: Prepare yourselves. The monsoon returns.

Another one to three inches of rain will fall Thursday until 8 p.m. on Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Hernando counties, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Bobby Deskins.

A flood watch also is in effect until that time.

Meanwhile, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office announced a handful of road closures due to flooding, including Hesperides Street N between Sligh and Hillsborough avenues.

And the National Weather Service in Ruskin issued a marine warning for Tampa Bay waters, advising boaters to find safe harbor amid lightning strikes and high waves.

Forecasters also predicted strong wind gusts that would affect the Courtney Campbell Causeway, Howard Frankland Bridge and Gandy Bridge around rush hour.

At Tampa International Airport, 36 arrivals and 47 departures had been delayed by 5 p.m. due to the weather. The average delay was about an hour, airport spokeswoman Emily Nipps said.

The airport also received three planes originally headed to Orlando International Airport that stopped to refuel because of the weather or long holding patterns, she said.

About 2,000 Hillsborough County residents had lost power around 4:45 p.m., according to an outage map on the Tampa Electric Co. website.

In Pasco County, where floodwater has destroyed 46 homes and damaged hundreds of others, officials warned of further flooding due to Thursday's rains. A state declaration of emergency signed by Gov. Rick Scott remained in effect.

Though the day's showers have less fire power than the month-long deluge that plagued Pasco and northwest Hillsborough, "because of the saturated grounds, flooding could happen," Deskins said. In Pasco County, officials said watersheds were full and no rain would be absorbed.

Deskins warned residents to watch for small hail, too.

Looking ahead, there's an 80 percent chance of rain Friday; a 60 percent chance Saturday; and a 50 percent chance Sunday, Deskins said.

Oh, boy.

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