The outer bands of Hurricane Florence are beginning to lash the North Carolina coast, and the storm is expected to produce life-threatening flooding and catastrophic storm surge once it makes landfall overnight into Friday.
The impact on Tampa Bay? A nearly ideal outdoor weekend.
That’s because Florence’s counterclockwise rotation will pull much of the atmospheric moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico and to the north, producing mostly sunny skies, little chance of rain, and much more comfortable conditions.
"Through the weekend we’ll have pretty low rain chances," said Rodney Winn, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "That is due to drier air. We’re at the southern point of the storm, so much of moisture is being pulled north."
Starting Friday, the chance of rain will drop below 20 percent, and any storms that form would do so to the south. Skies should be mostly sunny with highs around 92. That sunshine should remain unhindered Saturday and Sunday.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a weekend to head to the beach, as Red Tide continues to emerge across Pinellas beaches — and especially in mid-county areas such as Redington Pier and Indian Shores.
In the meantime, Thursday will produce little change from what the region has experienced this week. Highs will be in the low 90s under partly cloudy skies, and scattered showers and thunderstorms won’t reach the coast until late in the afternoon to evening. Forecasters put rain chances at 40-50 percent.
Much of that rain should dissipate overnight as temperatures drop down to the mid 70s. By Friday morning, moisture will begin to shift away from Tampa Bay as the western-flowing air pattern takes hold.
Humidity will return by Monday, forecasters said, and with it a more standard summertime pattern. Expect rain chances to rise back up to around 60 percent by early next week.