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100 percent chance of rain promises heavy showers for afternoon rush hour

There are no two ways around it: Rain is on its way to the Tampa Bay area. But it's going to hit later today than forecasters expected.

With a 100 percent chance of rain, forecasters said, expect a day of cloudy skies followed by heavy showers in the afternoon and through the night.

The weather system, moving north from Sarasota, was originally predicted to hit the bay area Tuesday morning. But the rain moved slower than anticipated.

Scattered thunderstorms should begin by the early afternoon and progress to an onslaught of wet, windy weather, said National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Rude.

"There won't be any easing into it — it's going to go from not raining to raining fairly fast," he said.

Rush hour could be messy, with heavy rain and winds up to 20 miles per hour, Rude said.

Forecasters predict the area could see as much as 2 to 4 inches in some areas.

If temperatures balloon into the mid 80s, imbedded thunderstorms may manifest within the system, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker. The forecasted high today is 82.

"That's the big wild card," he said.

Linker said flooding could be possible in low-lying areas and areas with poor drainage, though he didn't anticipate catastrophic flooding.

The rain is likely to abate by midnight, according to the National Weather Service.

A cold front moving into the area from the north will bring clearer skies and cooler weather for the rest of the week, forecasters said.

Wednesday's high will be 77 degrees. Thursday's and Friday's highs will be in the low 70s.

100 percent chance of rain promises heavy showers for afternoon rush hour 10/18/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 12:27pm]
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