UPDATE: The tornado watch has been lifted, but a hazardous weather outlook warning remains in effect through the end of the week.
A nasty line of storms coming in from the Gulf of Mexico is creating a rainy St. Patrick’s Day for Pasco County residents. And now it comes with the threat of a tornado as well.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch until 11 p.m. for Pasco and Hillsborough counties, along with 21 other counties along Florida’s west coast.
It’s all part of a hazardous weather outlook the weather service issued early Monday morning, which called for severe thunderstorms and high winds among other problems.
A tornado watch means current weather conditions could possibly produce a tornado, but does not mean an actual tornado has been spotted.
For Monday and Monday night, thunderstorms will continue with a slight risk of severe storms capable of producing damaging winds, the weather service said. It also could include heavy rains and frequent deadly lightning strikes.
Strong southerly winds will create hazardous conditions on area likes, especially south of the Interstate 4 corridor. A lake wind advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. Monday.
Residents should stay away from beaches as well as high winds and seas on the Gulf will result in high surf that will produce rip currents along area beaches throughout Monday. And anyone thinking of taking a boat out might want to reconsider, as southerly winds ranging from 15 knots to 20 knots has created a small craft advisory on Gulf waters south of Tarpon Springs.
The weather service also warns that small craft should exercise caution elsewhere.
There’s no immediate end in sight for the storms, either. Thunderstorms are expected to continue Tuesday and through the rest of the week, capable of producing strong, gusty winds with heavy rains and lightning strikes.