Waterspout near Sunshine Skyway damages mail truck

Image courtesy Meghan Benoit

TAMPA BAY, FL (WFLA) UPDATE – It was a frightening morning for dozens of drivers crossing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Manatee County Sunday. A waterspout roared across the Sunshine Skyway, becoming a tornado as it crossed the bridge then caught a US Postal Service truck as it moved.

Surprisingly no one was hurt. Many motorists headed toward its path managed to turn around to safety at a nearby rest area.

Randall Leaver of Wesley Chapel was inside the USPS mail truck just after 9 a.m. Sunday when the tornado swept his truck up in the chaos. His truck left the ground twice, eventually landing upright.

Photo: Florida Highway Patrol
Photo: Florida Highway Patrol

Mail flew away and the truck was damaged, but Leaver walked away uninjured.

Kent Davis was one of the couple dozen drivers who suddenly stopped when they saw the commotion. “We were able to kind of spin around and turn around the opposite way and pull off to the rest area,” he said. He said the whole thing lasted a matter of seconds but it’s been on his mind all day.

“That truck was probably no more than 50 yards in front of me when I realized what was going on and I stopped,” Davis said.  “I’ve never been associated with a tornado or anything that close, but I feel bad for the guy in the truck because that had to be really, really, scary because I know I got nervous,” Davis said.

A nearby construction site got hit by the tornado, too, and got some damage. A small boat also overturned.

TAMPA BAY, FL (WFLA) – A waterspout was caught on camera near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge Sunday morning.

The image was tweeted by our viewer Meghan Benoit. WFLA Meteorologist Bryan Bennett confirmed that the waterspout near the bridge appeared at about 9:50 a.m. Bennett verified it with the help of the radial velocity radar product. The waterspout later dissipated.

Bennett said the waterspout damaged a US Mail tractor trailer in the area as it crossed over the bridge, the Florida Highway Patrol confirmed the information. According to FHP, Randall J. Leaver, 56, of Wesley Chapel, was driving a 2007 semi truck with US Mail survived tornadic experience on Skyway.

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Image courtesy Meghan Benoit
PHOTOS: Waterspout near Sunshine Skyway

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