© 2024 All Rights reserved WUSF
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A tornado watch is in effect for the Tampa Bay area

Florida Public Radio Emergency Network

It's in effect until Tuesday at 9 p.m. as a powerful line of storms moves across the state.

UPDATE: The The powerful line of storms that moved across the state on Tuesday produced a brief tornado in St. Petersburg. Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Ruskin, said an EF-0 tornado touched down at an apartment building at 4:23 p.m., and followed a tornado warning.


The greater Tampa Bay region is bracing for potentially severe storms as a squall line moves west across the state.

Powerful gusts from the storms have already resulted in reported damage in parts of the Panhandle, and the line of storms is expected to produce the greatest impact the Tampa Bay area from 6-9 p.m.

"Well ahead of this storm’s cold front, the pressure gradient is tightening, and that translates to strong winds across our state," said Megan Borowski, senior meteorologist for the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network.

"Wind alerts are in effect for the entirety of the state and gusts has high as 45 mph are possible well ahead of any rain or thunderstorms. But the primary hazard today for the peninsula will be a squall line of thunderstorms that is making it’s way eastward along the Gulf Coast. These thunderstorms could produce 80 mile an hour wind gusts, and a few strong tornadoes will be possible, too."

READ MORE: Dangerous overnight thunderstorms will impact the state into Tuesday

Counties across the greater Tampa Bay region are under a Tornado Watch until Tuesday at 9 p.m., and the National Weather Service has also issued Coastal Flood Warnings from Citrus to Sarasota counties until Wednesday at 7 a.m.

Coastal areas are also at risk for high surf and dangerous rip currents.

The storms are forecast to produce sustained winds of 25-35 mph, with frequent gusts between 35 and 45 mph possible. Those could cause downed power lines and trees.

State of emergency

Gov. Ron DeSantis has issued a state of emergency and activated the Florida National Guard for 49 counties across the state in preparation for the severe weather.

The order includes Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Hernando and Citrus counties.

During a news conference at the Florida Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday afternoon, DeSantis said four tornadoes touched down in the Panhandle, and Florida Department of Transportation crews are working to clear trees off roadways.

Kevin Guthrie, with the state's Department of Emergency Management, urged residents to stay inside and heed warnings from local officials.

"These storms are going to be capable of producing widespread damaging winds up to 70 mph and tornadoes and large hail are possible," Guthrie said during the news conference.

A tornado watch means the conditions are favorable for a tornado. A warning means a tornado has been sighted or indicated by radar.

"If a tornado warning is issued in your area, seek shelter immediately in an interior room away from doors," Guthrie said, "If it's necessary, cover to protect your head and body with blankets or pillows."

Click here for updates from Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Power outages

As of Tuesday at 9 p.m., more than 26,000 customers in Florida are without power. Click here for county-by-county power outages across the state.


The anticipated severe weather prompted some schools in the Tampa Bay region to close down on Tuesday. Sandbag distribution locations were also opened as well. For more information on local school closures, click here.

The state is also providing updates on school and university closures across the state here.

Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.

Updated: January 10, 2024 at 6:07 AM EST
This story has been updated with a tornado touching down in St. Petersburg on Tuesday afternoon.
I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.