Waterspout prompts search for boater

Image 1 of 4

Emergency crews in Pinellas County scrambled to try and find a boater who may have been injured during an encounter with a waterspout, but they later determined he was OK.

The waterspout spun up just after 2 p.m. from a slow-moving thunderstorm. Social media users shared several photos and videos of the dramatic scene along the Intracoastal, and the National Weather Service issued a special marine warning.

Witnesses reported seeing someone on a water scooter ride dangerously close to the waterspout near the Dunedin Causeway, then vanish. Crews from the Pinellas Sheriff's Office, Coast Guard, and Florida Fish & Wildlife began combing the waterway for the boater.

After about a 20-minute search, they found the boater in the Clearwater area.  He told crews he had sped south to avoid the storm, and was not harmed.

Earlier, an elderly golfer was struck by lightning along a course in nearby Clearwater.  The 74-year-old man was taken to a Tampa hospital; he was in intensive care in fair condition as of Friday afternoon.