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Storms sidestep area, but temperatures should fall

A cold front expected to drop temperatures into the 40s during the next few days brought heavy rains and flooding to parts of Florida on Saturday, but the Tampa Bay area escaped the worst of it.

Most of the Tampa Bay region got about a half-inch of rain during a gloomy, overcast Saturday. But farther south along the Gulf Coast, a squall line of storms wreaked havoc.

Street flooding was reported in Sarasota, and the hardest-hit areas of Charlotte and Lee counties had 10 inches of rain dumped on them by midday, said Frank Alsheimer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. He expected at least 2 more inches of rain in those areas by today.

Thunderstorms swept through Central Florida and into southwest Florida on Saturday afternoon, prompting a tornado watch for most of the state south of Orlando. A waterspout was spotted off the coast of Fort Lauderdale shortly before 3 p.m., forecasters said.

When the cold front behind this severe weather sweeps into Florida today, temperatures will be at their lowest yet this fall.

Residents of the Tampa Bay area should wake up to temperatures in the low 60s this morning and shouldn't see them climb out of the 60s all day, according to the National Weather Service.

That's nothing compared to what Monday morning should bring: temperatures in the upper 40s.

It should remain cool all week, with afternoon high temperatures gradually rising into the low 70s by Wednesday and nighttime lows staying in the 40s or 50s until Thursday, forecasters said.

After possible isolated rain showers today, meteorologists expect the skies to clear up and dry weather to last through much of this week.