HOLIDAY, Fla. (AP) – April 14, 2009– Forecasters reported a tornado north of the Tampa area as a line of storms Tuesday ripped roof shingles off homes, uprooted trees and forced the evacuation of school children in trailer classrooms on Florida's west coast.
No injuries were immediately reported. It was the latest round of bad weather to hammer the South after heavy rain and strong winds Monday that hit Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and northern Florida, still reeling from storms and tornados last week.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for 20 Florida counties until Tuesday afternoon.
"To our knowledge, there's been no true structure damage and no injuries," said Jim Martin, Emergency Management Director for Pasco County, where at least one twister was spotted Tuesday morning near Holiday, about 30 miles northwest of Tampa.
Forecasters said a band of storms swept through Pasco and northern Hillsborough and Pinellas counties just after 9 a.m.
Students in Hillsborough were evacuated from trailer classrooms in the northern part of the county. The pupils were brought into permanent school buildings for shelter and parents were instructed not to come to pick up their children.
A day after high winds were blamed for toppling trees that killed one person each in Tennessee and Georgia, more blustery conditions were reported across the region.
In northern Florida, spotters reported that a tree fell on a car, injuring two people. Their conditions were not immediately known.
In other parts of Florida, officials were carefully watching to see if Tuesday's rains would cause more flooding on the Santa Fe, lower Suwannee and other rivers across the Panhandle.
Atlanta-area crews were still clearing up fallen trees and working to restore power and traffic lights after squalls Monday pushed through Georgia.
About 43,000 Georgia utility customers were still without power early Tuesday, most in the Atlanta area. That was down from more than 290,000 at the peak.
Darkened traffic lights on some major roads Tuesday morning added to commuting headaches.
Georgia Power spokeswoman Konswello Monroe said power may not be restored to all Atlanta-area customers until Wednesday evening