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Stormy morning in Tampa Bay to be followed by cold snap

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for parts of Pinellas County during the early morning storms.
Goldie Limon, 1, of Clearwater, reaches to help her mother, Jessica Limon, left, after selecting oranges while visiting the Dunedin Downtown Market with his parents on Friday.
Goldie Limon, 1, of Clearwater, reaches to help her mother, Jessica Limon, left, after selecting oranges while visiting the Dunedin Downtown Market with his parents on Friday. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published Jan. 13|Updated Jan. 13

A cold front pushing through the Tampa Bay area brought some stormy weather Friday morning that will give way to a strong cool down this weekend.

Rainy weather began about 4:30 a.m. Friday and brought with it wind gusts of about 20 to 30 mph. Storms petered out by about 8 a.m., and by the afternoon temperatures will begin to plummet, making way for the chilliest weekend of the new year.

The cold snap prompted officials in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties to open shelters for those who need a warm place to stay.

Friday morning wind gusts were as strong as 30 mph, according to Stephen Shiveley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Tampa Bay Office. At about 4:45 a.m., the Weather Service placed Tarpon Springs to Crystal Beach in a tornado warning. Shiveley said meteorologists identified rotation on the radar — a sign of a possible tornado.

“The good news is we haven’t had any confirmation of damage,” Shiveley said. “We haven’t seen anything to confirm the tornado did hit the ground.”

Normally, as people wake up and the sun begins to shine, people notice if they’re missing shingles or a tree has come down, he said. But as of 6:30 a.m., no damage has been reported.

Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologists said the skies will be mostly clear by midday and temperatures will plunge for the first time in the new year.

“By one or two o’clock this afternoon you’ll start noticing it’s going to get windy after the front, and the temperatures are going to start dropping,” Shiveley said.

By Friday night temperatures will be in the low to mid-40s across the area. Saturday night going into Sunday morning will see some of the coldest temperatures of the weekend. On Sunday morning, temperatures will be around 40 degrees along the coast and in the mid-30s inland, Shiveley said.

Cold night shelters are opening in Hillsborough and Pinellas County on Friday and Saturday night for those without a warm place to stay. Pinellas opens their shelters when the ‘feels like’ temperature hits 40 degrees. And Hillsborough opens theirs when the temperatures are 40 or below.

Pinellas will begin accepting people at shelters at 6 p.m. and most will run until 6 a.m., except for the Salvation Army in St. Petersburg, which will run until 7:30 a.m. In Hillsborough County, shelters will take in guests from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m., unless the shelters reach capacity before the deadline.

Shiveley does not anticipate any freezing in the Tampa Bay area but the Weather Service is forecasting some frost Sunday morning.

By Monday, the sun will be shining and the high will reach the upper 60s. Throughout the week, temperatures will climb and reach around 80 by mid-week.

A list of shelters

Hillsborough County:

- Amazing Love Ministries, 3304 E. Columbus Dr., Tampa

- Church of God of Prophecy Hyde Park, 107 S. Oregon Ave., Tampa

- Greater New Hope Church Anointed Ministries (Prayer Retreat Center), 2104 Mud Lake Rd., Plant City

- Homeless Helping Homeless, 801 E. Saint Clair St., Tampa

- Homeless Helping Homeless, 3008 N. Nebraska Ave., Tampa

- Hyde Park United Methodist Church, 500 W. Platt St., Tampa

- New Life Church in Tampa (pet friendly), 8216 N. 13th St. Tampa

- Tampa Bay Mission of Hope, 212 S. St. Cloud Ave. Building A, Valrico

Metropolitan Ministries and Generations Renewed are supplying a limited number of single-night motel vouchers for families with children on a first-come, first-served basis. Pre-registration is required by calling the numbers below. Phone lines turn on at 9 a.m., and the deadline to call is 5 p.m.

- Families in Tampa call (813) 209-1176

- Families in Plant City call (813) 562-4495

Pinellas County:

- Boys & Girls Club, 111 W. Lime Street, Tarpon Springs

- First United Methodist Church of Clearwater, 411 Turner Street, Clearwater

- The Refuge Outreach Church, 606 Alden Avenue, Clearwater

- Boys & Girls Club, 7790 61st Street North, Pinellas Park

- Northwest Presbyterian Church, 6330 54th Ave. North, St. Petersburg

- WestCare Turning Point, 1810 5th Ave. North, St. Petersburg

- Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg, 100 Mirror Lake Drive North, St Petersburg. This location requires the use of stairs.

- Salvation Army, Address: 1400 4th Street South, St Petersburg.

Families with children will be placed in family shelters on cold nights, if space is available. Families should call 2-1-1, Tampa Bay Cares, Inc., for information on family shelters.