Rain likely this weekend; severe weather still possible across Tampa Bay

Beachgoers seek shelter under umbrellas as windblown rain sweeps across Clearwater Beach on Thursday. Severe weather is still possible this weekend.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

Beachgoers seek shelter under umbrellas as windblown rain sweeps across Clearwater Beach on Thursday. Severe weather is still possible this weekend.

Forecasters say there is still a potential for hazardous conditions — not ideal for a weekend packed with outdoor events — though the low-pressure system threatening severe weather for the Tampa Bay region looked less ominous Thursday.

"Models are toning it down slightly," said Tyler Fleming of the National Weather Service.

Those models now show the system moving slower and farther to the south than previously predicted.

The region will likely see showers and thunderstorms, bringing heavy rain and winds Saturday night into Sunday afternoon.

"The only question we have is the severity of any storms that develop," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez.

Tampa Bay could see strong, gusty winds; frequent dangerous lightning strikes; hail and locally heavy rains in the storms, according to the National Weather Service.

The chance of rain Saturday is 80 percent. It's at 60 percent on Sunday, according to Bay News 9.

That's not want organizers want to hear for tons of outdoor events this weekend, from Clearwater's free Fun 'N Sun concerts in Coachman Park to the Erase Hate Fest in Tampa to American Stage's the Rocky Horror Show performance in the park in St. Petersburg.

What's a fun-lover to do?

Pack an umbrella and keep an eye on the weather.

The 13 Ugly Men White Party at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk hotel on Saturday will go on rain or shine, as will the popular Mainsail Arts Festival in St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park on Saturday and Sunday.

Like baseball games, American Stage says it never lets the threat of bad weather cancel a show, so the Rocky Horror Show in the park is a go at Demens Landing. If the weather makes organizers pull the plug, patrons can use their ticket for any other upcoming performance.

Most other event organizers say the same. And remember, just because it's raining in Tampa doesn't mean it is in St. Petersburg, or vice versa.

On Wednesday, some forecasters had warned of a low-pressure system expected to form over the Gulf of Mexico, bringing the possibility of tornadoes, gusty winds and large hail. Others cautioned that the system was too far away and it was too early to forecast its effects with any certainty.

Meanwhile, parts of the region were hit with showers Thursday morning. The hot, humid weather will continue today, with rain chances increasing through the weekend.

Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne contributed to this report.

Rain likely this weekend; severe weather still possible across Tampa Bay 04/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 19, 2012 10:50pm]

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