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Water-Related News

West Central Florida under weather service flood watch

Just when residents thought the coast was clear, another storm comes knocking.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for West Central Florida on Monday as an area of low pressure moved north over the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

The flood watch started at 2 p.m. Monday and remains in place until 2 p.m. Tuesday for coastal counties from Sarasota to Levy, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties.

Bands of heavy rainfall are expected to move across the area, bringing the possibility of several inches of accumulation, according to the weather service.

“We’re gonna get continuous rain showers and storms,” said Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Ruskin. “People living in low-lying areas should definitely pay attention to the weather.”

The system is expected to move northeast over the Gulf Coast over the next 24 hours.

The National Hurricane Center gives the system a 20 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone within the next 48 hours. Strong upper-level winds should prevent significant development, according to the hurricane center. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft was sent to investigate the disturbance.

In anticipation of flooding in low-lying areas, Tampa officials made sandbags available to residents.

Motorists should be careful while driving and avoid roads where water covers the street.

To help prevent a shallow sea of sunken cars, Tampa’s transportation and stormwater services department is prepositioning barricades in areas that are prone to flooding, said Brad Baird, Tampa public works and utility services administrator.

“The police department will put them out immediately if needed,” he said.

Hillsborough County officials have activated the county’s emergency response team, said Hillsborough County spokeswoman Michelle Van Dyke.

“We are actively monitoring the storm system,” she said.

Van Dyke said the county urges everyone to avoid downed power lines and standing water of unknown depth. She said motorists should not circumvent barricades.

“It’s not worth the few minutes it would save you,” Van Dyke said. (813) 259-7619