According to the National Weather Service, a moderate risk of severe weather is forecast for Pinellas County this afternoon and evening.
Pinellas County Emergency Management is advising residents to make preparations ahead of a significant threat of severe weather that could begin impacting the area as early as 4 p.m. Sunday.
The U.S. Coast Guard in St. Petersburg is advising boaters to stay safe after responding to six search-and-rescue calls on Saturday during which three lives were saved and 13 other boaters were assisted.
Small craft advisories and gale warnings are in effect for various areas along the coast.
“Due to the severe weather impacting our region, it is ill advised to head out on the water,” said Richard Hutchinson, a search and rescue coordinator at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “Your live is too valuable to take the risk and brave these conditions.”
The National Weather Service in Ruskin is predicting that thunderstorms will spread through the area this afternoon and tonight ahead of a cold front. Some strong to severe storms are possible. The threat of severe weather in the local area is classified as moderate, which means widespread severe storms are likely.
The county’s Emergency Management is monitoring the situation and will continue to do so until the threat is over, which most likely will be early evening. The approximate timing of storms to arrive in Pinellas is 4-6 p.m.
NWS says the local area could experience numerous strong showers, thunderstorms, wind gusts of up to 58 mph and greater with a potential for tornados and hail.
Officials are urging all citizens to:
• Locate your emergency weather radio and ensure that it is on. If you don’t have one, confirm that you receive emergency notifications on your mobile device or through other means.
• Identify the safest place in the building you are located. Generally, a room that is in the middle of the building, with no windows, perhaps a closet or bathroom, is the safest place to take cover when a tornado moves through your area.
• Make sure you heed a tornado warning and act quickly. If a tornado warning is issued, there will be approximately 11 minutes for everyone in the building to get to a safe place.
• In anticipation of high winds, residents should secure objects outdoors, such as lawn furniture.
• Limit road travel. Road conditions and visibility may be poor due to severe weather. Do not attempt to drive down flooded roadways.
• Avoid coming into contact with or walking through flood water.
• Monitor weather radios frequently as weather conditions may change frequently.
• Monitor the county’s Facebook and Twitter pages for updates all day long.
Mariners should take proper precautions to ensure their vessels and loose items are properly secured. Unsecured items, such as kayaks, canoes, Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons and lifejackets can prompt an unnecessary search that puts emergency responders in undue harm. Non-emergency activation of EPIRBs is one of the leading causes of unnecessary searches. EPIRBs can be activated once they hit the water, instantly prompting Coast Guard response.