Forecast: Weakening system will still produce soaking rains across Tampa Bay

[National Hurricane Center]
[National Hurricane Center]
Published May 15 2018
Updated May 15 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — Following a day of soaking rain from a large low-pressure area that threatened to develop into an early tropical system, there’s some relative relief for the Tampa Bay area.

The widespread rain that produced up to 6-8 inches in some areas slowed to a trickle Tuesday morning, and the system that would have been named Alberto appears to be fizzing out in the Gulf of Mexico.

As of Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center dropped low-pressure area’s chances of developing into a tropical system to 20 percent over the next 48 hours and 30 percent over the next five days as it meanders to the north.

EXTENDED FORECAST: The 10-day outlook for the Tampa Bay area

While there is still a chance of strengthening, forecasters said it has not shown any signs of organization since Monday.

"Temperatures in the Gulf are not favorable for development," said Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "Most of the water is around the 70s which would inhibit the storm from developing, and our upper atmosphere conditions aren’t too favorable either."

Nevertheless, the main threat remains the likelihood of more drenching rains with the possibility of potentially heavy rainfall through the week, according to the weather service.

"Rainfall forecasts will continue to be on track," Davis said. "It’s a very weak low-pressure system but we are on the wet side of it, so our chances of rain will be very high even through the weekend."

Davis said rain chances will be highest in the afternoon, and inland, as the coastal breeze collides with daytime heating.

PREVIOUS STORY: Dry no more: Tampa Bay is set to get soaked this week

Tuesday morning lows are in the low 70s under mostly cloudy skies and high humidity, thanks to increased tropical moisture in the air.

After some isolated morning showers, highs will reach only the low 80s with a better chance of scattered afternoon thunderstorms, forecasters said. Those storms could produce locally heavy rain, especially inland as the sea breeze pushes the showers on shore before subsiding closer to midnight.

By Wednesday, conditions will resemble more of a summertime pattern, with building storms in the afternoon — again primarily inland, forecasters said. Those storms could cause localized street flooding in low-lying areas.

Similar conditions will prevail throughout the week as the unsettled air mass lingers in the gulf, forecasters said. Expect enhanced rain chances well into the weekend.

While it may spoil outdoor plans, this week’s soaking rains have proven to be a benefit.

The Tampa Bay region has had about 10 inches of rain this year, about 2˝ less than the average annual total, said weather service meteorologist Stephen Shiveley. The extra rain this week will help the area reach the yearly average by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, firefighters in other parts of the state hope the rains will help them contain wildfires. Significant rainfall contributed to containment of fires near Placid Lakes on Monday, according to the Florida Forest Service, which is about a 30-minute drive south of Sebring.


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Times staff writer Caitlin Johnston contributed to this report.

Contact Carl Lisciandrello at [email protected] Follow @carlmarksTimes.