Weather Service Credits For Providing First Link To Tornado Information


By Matt Wiley

Parts of New Tampa are still recovering from the effects of Tropical Storm Debby, which sat on top of the Tampa Bay area for days, bringing with it a barrage of wind, rain, tornadoes and flooding.

From June 24-27, New Tampa residents tried to go about their everyday lives as Debby swirled overhead, as the storm stalled just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Meteorologists showed projected paths stretching across the Gulf Coast from central Florida to Texas, and were never really sure what the system would do.

While experts scratched their heads, Debby dumped more than 15 inches of rain on the Bay area, with 13.5 inches reported in New Tampa.

Along with the rain, Debby’s winds also caused severe power outages. A representative from the Tampa Electric Company (TECO) reported that more than 20,000 customers were without power during the storm’s peak.

Besides flooding, the most dangerous part of a tropical storm is the possibility of tornadoes, eleven of which were reported after Debby all across Tampa Bay, including one that touched down in New Tampa.

“I actually found out about it from someone sending me a link to your article,” says National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist Dan Noah. “That’s how we go back after a storm to find out exactly how many (tornadoes) may have touched down — we work with the local news media.”

Tornado In Grand Hampton

Mangled fencing and the remnants of the community clubhouse’s tennis shed decorated the tennis courts behind the clubhouse of the Grand Hampton community along County Line Rd. in New Tampa after a tornado touched down during Tropical Storm Debby.

Several residents of the Grand Hampton community reported numerous instances of damage from the now-confirmed tornado that touched down, or at least hovered above, the area during a tornado warning between 4 p.m.-5 p.m. on June 24.

The community clubhouse’s tennis courts, which were still surrounded by yellow caution tape and adorned with “Keep Out” signs when we visited a day later, hardly resembled a place to play tennis. The fence posts were sticking out at sharp angles or were bent in half and reaching for the ground.

Residents report storm damage to at least a dozen homes in Grand Hampton after Debby entered our area.

One particular home, that the New Tampa Neighborhood News editorial department saw first-hand, had its entire pool cage ripped to pieces and scattered across the backyard, with much of the debris landing either in the pool or in the adjacent vacant lot in one of the newer sections of Grand Hampton. The homeowner’s large, metal grill was still standing, but in the grass on the edge of the adjacent property.

The Grand Hampton Homeowners Association (HOA) would not release any details about how many homes had been damaged, what the estimated cost of that damage may have been or make any comment about whether or not a tornado actually touched down in the community.

Even after the tornado was confirmed by the NWS, we could not get a spokesperson for the Grand Hampton Homeowners Association to comment on the damage to the homes caused by Debby in the community.

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