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Severe Storms Head For Southern, Central Florida

UPDATED 1 PM EDT, April 4, 2013

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologists, Seth Carrier and James West

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Strong and severe thunderstorms are rolling off the Gulf of Mexico this afternoon, bringing heavy rain, frequent lightning and damaging winds. A few tornadoes could accompany the storms as well.

A Tornado Watch is in effect through 8 p.m. EDT across southern and central Florida, including Tampa, Sarasota, Miami and Key West. A Tornado Watch means that conditions are ripe for severe storms capable of producing tornadoes in the area of the watch. If a tornado warning is posted, be prepared to act and seek shelter in basement or interior room.

The storm threat is a result of a lumbering low pressure system moving across the northern Gulf of Mexico. The first storms have already pushed onto the Florida Gulf Coast along a warm front, with another wave of powerful storms expected along a cold front this afternoon and evening.

The storms will merge into clusters while trekking through central and southern Florida through Friday morning. Cities from Miami to Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla., could all be in the path of these storms today and early Friday morning. Even outside this heightened area of severe weather lies a still-dangerous severe weather threat along the Interstate 10 corridor across the Florida Panhandle.

The biggest concerns will be damaging wind gusts topping 60 mph along with hail as large as golf balls, along with a secondary threat of a few tornadoes. Additionally, the most intense thunderstorms will trigger frequent and dangerous lightning seen on Earth Networks Live Total Lightning Network.

Even without the storms, the Southeast will have a soggy day as rain pushes up the Atlantic coast from northern Florida through the Virginia Tidewater. More than 2 inches will be likely, producing some localized flooding.

Make sure you have the WeatherBug app with you everywhere you go. The iPhone app now includes Spark Lightning Alerts, a GPS-based lightning detection feature providing you the location of the closest lightning strike, so you can Know Before the storm hits. Click here for the link to download.

Also, be sure to keep WeatherBug active to receive the latest weather in your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.

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