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Tampa Bay dries out as storms move east; Sunsine Skyway Bridge reopened

The sun rises over Philippe Park in Safety Harbor on a pleasant morning on April 19, 2019. A cold front was forecast to bring potentially severe weather to the Tampa Bay area later in the day. [CARL LISCIANDRELLO | Times]
The sun rises over Philippe Park in Safety Harbor on a pleasant morning on April 19, 2019. A cold front was forecast to bring potentially severe weather to the Tampa Bay area later in the day. [CARL LISCIANDRELLO | Times]
Published Apr. 19, 2019

The severe weather that lashed the Tampa Bay area with thunder, lightning and damaging winds near 50 mph on Friday afternoon is on its way to the other coast.

The weather started impacting the region early as strong winds moved in. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for the Tampa Bay area around 1 p.m., along with a tornado watch in place until 4 p.m.

It was about noon when the Florida Highway Patrol closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to all traffic and Tampa International Airport announced a ground stop about an hour later.

The grounding was lifted around 2:30 p.m., but the airport showed 176 delays and 67 cancellations for the day.

The Sunshine Skyway itself was reopened just after 6 p.m.

Clouds started to build Friday morning and storms began moving through the Tampa Bay for most of the afternoon. The region saw seeing sustained southwesterly winds of around 25 mph — with stronger gusts reaching 50 mph — along with the heavy downpours that could bury roads in flood-prone areas.

A Coastal Flood Warning was in effect until 6 p.m. as tides were projected to rise 2-4 feet above normal, and a rip current statement was also in effect at area beaches as boaters are warned to avoid the water.

The storms will keep high in the low 80s and overnight lows in the mid to upper 60s, setting the stage for an ideal Easter weekend.

Sunny skies will prevail on Saturday and Sunday, forecasters said. Some showers could linger on Saturday before high pressure takes control, with below-average highs only topping out in the low 70s on Saturday with pleasant westerly breezes and creeping up into the upper 70s on Sunday. Nighttime lows will drop into the 50s.

Contact Carl Lisciandrello at clisciandrello@tampabay.com. Follow @carlmarks_Times

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