Tornadoes, Thunderstorms Rip Through Central Florida

Apr 1, 2011, 10:13 by Victor Ryan

A powerful storm that included at least three tornadoes blew through central Florida Thursday, injuring dozens of people and shutting off power to tens of thousands of residents, the Associated Press reports.

The storm was strong enough to overturn small planes and vehicles, flood roads and cause extensive damage to homes and buildings. There were no reports of deaths as a result of the storm.

At the annual Sun 'n Fun aviation festival held at the Lakeland Regional Airport, a tent collapsed and seven people received minor injuries. At least 70 people were under the tent when it fell. The worse of the injuries was a fractured hip.

Gene Conrad, director of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport, told Reuters, "We had tremendous winds, it was an unbelievable storm."

Gusts of up to 90 mph were registered in Tampa and winds of up to 70 mph were reported in St. Petersburg. At least 88,000 Tampa Electric Company customers were without power as of 2 p.m. Thursday.

Tornadoes also dotted the region, and in St. Petersburg, the storm resulted in the sky turning dark at 11:15 a.m.

Florida has around 50 tornadoes a year, which ranks fourth in the nation, according to a Yahoo report.

The Herald-Tribune reported the storm produced an average rainfall of about 2 to 3 inches along its path, which broke several daily rainfall records.