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Tropical system to bring heavy rain to bay area this weekend as meteorologists keep watch on Ernesto

An area of low pressure that formed near the Bahamas is expected to bring heavy rains throughout the Tampa Bay area this weekend as meteorologists also continue to track Tropical Storm Ernesto in the eastern Caribbean.

The low pressure system hovered over the Bahamas late Friday and was expected to carry scattered heavy rain showers today and Sunday as it sweeps through Florida.

"There definitely will be a lot of rain," said Bay News 9 meteorologist Alan Winfield. "It will bring heavy tropical downpours for the whole Florida peninsula."

A 60 percent chance of rain was forecast for the Tampa Bay area for today, increasing to 80 percent on Sunday, Winfield said. Monday will also see a 60 percent chance of rain as the system heads into the Gulf of Mexico, where it could strengthen as it moves toward Louisiana.

As for Ernesto, the slow-moving storm continued its trek Friday through the eastern edge of the south Caribbean Sea, generating winds of 50 mph. It was still expected to move through the western Caribbean before strengthening to a hurricane by Sunday.

Though the storm's ultimate path was still uncertain, a return of high pressure over Florida will keep Ernesto south of Cuba and moving west.

Meanwhile, tropical depression six formed off the coast of Africa. It was forecast to strengthen into a tropical storm by this morning. It is far out in the Atlantic, and its path is uncertain.

"It's August. The season for storms forming off Africa has begun," Winfield said. "It gives us something to talk about."

Tropical system to bring heavy rain to bay area this weekend as meteorologists keep watch on Ernesto 08/03/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 3, 2012 11:25pm]

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