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Ana's leftovers to soak Tampa Bay; Bill grows to Category 4

The remnants of Tropical Storm Ana are expected to dump more than an inch of rain on the Tampa Bay area today starting this afternoon.

Juli Marquez, a meteorologist for Bay News 9, said residents can expect "a ton of moisture," and the rainfall is expected to hang around through the evening and into tomorrow. There is a 70 percent chance of rain.

"With the deeper moisture around, some areas today could get more than an inch of rain," Marquez said. "Depending on where the storms set up."

The National Weather Service hazardous weather outlook for today includes warnings of heavy downpours, deadly lightning and gusty winds— some with speeds topping 40 mph.

The weather group also warns that some storms will be capable of producing minor flooding.

The rainfall is welcome during summer, when water levels are expected to rebound — which has not happened much with the drought the past four years.

Robyn Felix, spokeswoman for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, said because summer rains have been average or below average the past few years, water levels in lakes, rivers and the aquifer are actually declining.

"If we do get some rainfall as a result of Ana, that would be very helpful right now," Felix said. "Because we are actually seeing water levels declining now. Which is not what you want to see during the summer. This is when everything should be filling up."

In the wake of Ana, Hurricane Bill has strengthened to a Category 4 storm, the National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Bill is unlikely to be a threat to Tampa Bay area residents, but Marquez said the storm still could strengthen and cause wave swells and rip currents on Florida's east coast.

"Right now the forecast cone is close to New England or curving well out in the Atlantic," she said.

Bill is moving west-northwest at about 16 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 135 mph. The storm is about 380 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands. The core of the storm is expected to pass the islands late today and early Thursday.

Hurricane-force winds extend about 80 miles from the core of the storm. Tropical storm force winds are about 175 miles from the center.

Bill is expected to gradually turn but continue on a northwest path within the next 24 to 48 hours.

Ana's leftovers to soak Tampa Bay; Bill grows to Category 4 08/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 1:23pm]

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