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Strong wind gusts blow damage across Bay Area

8:09 PM, Mar 4, 2012   |    comments
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TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- Wind gusts that hit more than 50 miles an hour on Sunday sent waves soaring over the barrier along the Howard Frankland Bridge. As the salty water sprayed windshields, cars quickly switched lanes. But that heavy wind isn't switching plans for John Lendell, who heads the Devil Dog Military Show in Odessa.

"A little Mother Nature came in last night or this morning and destroyed all the work we've done so far," he said. "To see it destroyed in just a few minutes, it's not an easy thing to handle."

Much like the wind, the show is coming up fast. It's scheduled for next weekend at the Gunn Highway Flea Market, so the damage to his military tents came as an unsavory surprise.

The wind split apart stakes, flattened a mobile Army surgical unit, and overturned a tent that's just like ones used by soldiers in Afghanistan.

"We assumed when we put it up that it would handle 115 mile an hour winds," Lendell said.

The same tropical storm force gusts that hit Lendell's tents in Odessa also had crews in North Tampa fixing damage from a tree crashing onto the road. That tree, near the intersection of Nebraska Ave. and Castle Ct., brought down fences and power lines with it.

Across the street, one building's roof had crumpled.

"What we saw today was straightline winds associated with a cold front. Officially, we recorded 52 mile an hour winds at Tampa International Airport," said 10 News Meteorologist Kate Wentzel. "This line was affiliated with that same system that brought tornadoes to the southeast U.S., but we did not have any tornadoes in the Bay Area."

Back at the Devil Dog Military Show, Lendell won't be able to assess if anything inside the tents suffered damage until the wind dies down.

"It's obvious with the wind, we're not going to be able to reset it today," he said. "But we'll get it done. We'll adapt and overcome."

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