Storms provide early-morning wake-up call; rain likely to continue

Severe weather has already made its way through much of the Tampa Bay region this morning, and rain will likely continue on and off through the morning

Many Bay Area residents were woken up by rumbling thunderstorms and gusty winds before sunrise. A few short-lived tornado warnings were issued, but there was no immediate word of any serious damage. Straight-line winds remain the biggest threat, explained FOX 13's meteorologist Dave Osterberg, with gusts of up to 60 mph possible.

"Every once in a while we get a severe weather threat, and every once in a blue moon it happens this early in the morning," he said. 

Before 5 a.m., northern counties from Citrus to Pasco began experiencing heavy rain and gusty winds with a potential for some hail inside some of the storms. After the line of strong storms passed through, FOX 13's meteorologist Tyler Eliasen said most of the afternoon will be dreary, with a low chance of sunshine.

The National Weather Service reported 56 mph winds in Crystal River. Hail was reported in the Gulf, off the coast of Hernando County.

In Sarasota, a homeowner was "extremely shaken up" after lightning blasted a hole in the roof of her home.

Several thousand TECO and Duke Energy customers lost power after the first wave of storms, but most of the outages had been resolved by 11:30 a.m. 

Osterberg said there will be multiple waves of rain coming onshore Friday. A tornado watch that was in effect through 11 a.m. has now expired.

"This happens to be the first one," Osterberg said. "We're going to get another wave of rain later this morning and into the afternoon, as well. So this may be kind of a one-two punch for us, overall, being that there is a lot of energy going on in the atmosphere."

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