Forecast: Brief warm front before conditions 'deteriorate quickly' across Tampa Bay

The rain should start to come this afternoon. The tornadoes will wait until Thursday.
Go to for current conditions, live radar and extended forecast.
Go to for current conditions, live radar and extended forecast.
Published December 19 2018
Updated December 19 2018

The weather will get a little warm and wet late Wednesday as much of Florida anticipates another whiplash of severe storms. The National Weather Service says the pleasant temperatures from the last few days will last into the early afternoon before things begin "to deteriorate quickly.”

The worst of it is expected to hit Thursday, with forecasters warning of the possibility of tornadoes in some areas. They said a cold front, accompanied by a band of moisture, is to blame.

The weather pattern is common for Florida in the winter but is exacerbated this year by El Niño. An active southern jet stream pushes upper level energy across Central America and into the area around the Sunshine State, said forecaster Tony Hurt. That energy fuels storms and brings more frequent severe weather.

“It’s pretty common with El Niño winters,” which occur roughly every three to seven years, Hurt said.

The last to hit Florida was between 2015 and 2016.

Wednesday began chilly, with morning commutes in the mid 50s. It was expected to warm to about 72 degrees as the sun emerged and the high-pressure system that had brought cool temperatures moved out of the area. As that system left, though, forecasters expected a warm front to pool moisture from the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, setting up dark skies and rain showers before the most severe storms pushed in Thursday.

The strength of the storms will depend on the amount of instability, or rapidly rising air that fuels severe weather, available. Unlike last Friday’s cold front, which saw the chance for severe weather taper as the system moved south, these storms are expected to hold strong over the middle and southern areas of Florida, where instability is expected to be greater. The weather could again include damaging winds, multiple tornadoes, hail and localized flooding as rainfall is expected to hit 3 inches. The greatest threat for severe weather is currently expected between noon and 4 p.m. Thursday.

The forecast predicts Friday to be cloudy and windy with lingering showers, except in some coastal communities, where conditions left over from the front could bring strong, potentially gale-force winds. That could mean rip currents, flooding, beach erosion and 8-foot waves.

The climatic chaos should clear by the weekend, which is expected to have plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60s.


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

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Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at Follow @danuscripts.