Storms down trees, leave behind cooler temperatures

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A round of strong and severe storms passed through Central Florida Friday, downing trees and damaging homes in the Bay Area.

A handful of severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado watch were issued for the Tampa Bay area.

The wind ended up being the main concern and cause of damage. The Florida Highway Patrol closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge just after noon Friday, citing the high winds.

Among the damages, a home on Avenue M SE in Winter Haven was gutted by fire after an electrical short was caused by a falling RV antenna.

Police say the wind knocked over the antenna, which was in a backyard. The antenna caused an electrical surge through the home.

Luckily, neighbors saw the fire and were able to start banging on doors to get people out. One homeowner ran inside to alert his 13-year-old-grandson.

The Red Cross is helping the family with housing Friday night, as the damage to the home and shed is significant.

"[It was] very scary," said homeowner Kevin Shrewsbury. "We know people are more important than material things. We can always replace this. But we can't replace people."

In Pasco County, a tree fell onto the screened-in porch of a woman's home on Ernie's Court in Holiday.

Homeowner Barbara Riccardo says she came home to find news media and public safety teams in her driveway.

She says her home has relatively minor damage, including to the gutters and backyard.

"What can I say? It is nature," said Riccardo. "There was nothing I could do to prevent it. It wasn't my tree. It's on my property so I guess I am responsible for cleaning this mess up."

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The storms slid east, clearing out of the Bay Area in time for the Easter weekend. In their wake, winds will continue into Saturday, but humidity and temperatures will go down. Lows will be in the 50s on Easter morning.