While the Florida Panhandle prepares for Hurricane Michael, with its 145 mph winds and potential for 9-12 feet of storm surge, Tampa Bay's experience with the hurricane will be starkly different.
Still nearly 250 miles away from the coast of Tampa Bay as of early Wednesday morning, Michael will still spread storm surge throughout the region and push rain chances to nearly 60-70 percent in some areas.
But for the most part, the forecast will remain rather fortunate for Tampa Bay.
Quick bands of rain — some possibly heavy — will run through Tampa Bay for most of the day, pushed by a sustained 15-20 mph wind, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service. Rain chances will run around 50 percent in Tampa and St. Petersburg, but higher along the coast and to the north.
In most cases, the rain will be associated with long bands extending from Hurricane Michael. More rare, there will be some areas that experience sustained scattered showers and thunderstorms that stick to one area.
"These bands of rain moving through most of the region will provide much of the rain," said Tony Hurt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "Some areas will see more prolonged showers depending on how the band is oriented, but for the most part these bands are pretty quick moving so the rain won’t sustain for a long period of time."
Storm surge will be at its highest during high tide. For Tampa and St. Petersburg, that will occur between 4-5 p.m. For folks heading home, be especially aware of areas prone to flooding as coastal tides will be around 1-3 feet higher than normal. Some areas may experience periods of heavily local flooding from the rain.
"People along the coast will be affected the most by the winds and storms surge," Hurt said. "They're the ones that have to keep a consistent eye out for what is happening with the forecast."
EXTENDED FORECAST: The 10-day outlook for the Tampa Bay area
High wind gusts could reach up to 35 mph today, a level not high enough to close any major roadways. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge could be closed if wind speeds sustain around 40 mph, but that seems unlikely, forecasters said.Temperatures for the area are expected to reach into the upper 80s with mostly cloudy skies today. Rain chances will sustain throughout most of the day and overnight leading into Thursday.
Thursday morning should appear overcast with rain chances continuing around 50 percent. The effects of Hurricane Michael will not begin to dissipate until midday to evening. Trailing Michael will be some drier air, so Tampa Bay is expected to have a sunny, relatively dry weekend ahead.
HURRICANE GUIDE: Emergency information, tracking map and storm resources
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