Florida Theme Park Halts Park Operations as Deadly Weather Continues to Sweep Across State

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A split image featuring a stormy sky with lightning above roller coasters on the left inside of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and a "severe weather shelter area" sign with a tornado symbol on the right.

Image Credit: Inside The Magic

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay theme park in Florida closed its doors early today as dangerous and life-threatening weather continued to sweep the state.

Front entrance sign to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida
Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Shuts Down Early as Severe, Malicious Weather Strikes Florida

Announced moments ago, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will close its doors early this afternoon to allow guests and employees to make it home safely following a string of Tornado Watches, Tornado Warnings, Severe Weather Warnings, and more striking parts of Florida today. Governor Ron DeSantis is closely monitoring the situation in South Florida and Central Florida as the storms pass. Polk County and Orange County experienced some rough weather recently, including locations like Palm beach and now Tampa Bay.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is closing early today due to inclement weather.

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A series of potent storms is anticipated to sweep through Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon, as the National Weather Service forecasted.

Tampa Bay has a “slight” risk of encountering severe weather on Thursday. This categorization, the second level on a scale ranging from 1 to 5, designates a significant possibility of severe weather, with “marginal” representing the lowest likelihood and “high” indicating the most critical risk, as outlined by the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center. Subsequently, a tornado watch has been issued for the Tampa Bay area and much of north central Florida, effective until 3 p.m. A tornado watch signifies favorable conditions for tornado formation.

Front entrance to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida
Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Coastal regions of Florida’s west coast, including areas along Tampa Bay, are under a coastal flood warning until 8 p.m. Should the storm coincide with high tide on Thursday afternoon, coastal regions of Tampa Bay could witness flooding of up to 3 or 4 feet, as per forecasts.

Predictions warn of potential flooding in homes and businesses and the possibility of shoreline erosion. The inclement weather, initially affecting the South on Wednesday, is expected to progress toward Tampa Bay throughout the day and night.

The weather service anticipates the arrival of storms in Tampa Bay by Thursday afternoon. Severe storms are expected to reach northern areas of Tampa Bay between noon and 4 p.m., while southern regions could experience storms from 2 to 7 p.m.

Concept artwork for the official Busch Gardens Tampa Bay theme park logo with a white backdrop.
Image Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, renowned for its commitment to guest safety, has robust protocols to handle inclement weather scenarios such as the anticipated storms sweeping through Tampa Bay on Thursday. The park’s dedicated team monitors weather forecasts and alerts, ensuring swift communication of impending threats to guests and staff.

With a focus on proactive measures, this theme park has implemented comprehensive emergency response plans, including procedures for temporary closures of outdoor attractions and the safe evacuation of guests to designated shelter areas if necessary.

Additionally, the park conducts regular inspections and maintenance of its facilities and attractions to ensure structural integrity and readiness for adverse weather conditions. Through diligent preparedness efforts and a steadfast dedication to guest safety, this theme park remains equipped to navigate and mitigate the impacts of severe weather events.

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