Foul weather fueled by a low pressure area in the Gulf of Mexico could soon batter the Florida Panhandle, still recovering from last year's devastating hurricane season, forecasters say.
There's no need to panic yet, as computer models don't agree on much except for increased rain in the area, meteorologists say. But the evolving forecast comes as a reminder to remain alert.
"Around this time of year, anytime you have an area that forms like that, sitting over warm water, it's always possible that something tropical could develop," said National Weather Service of Ruskin meteorologist Andrew McKaughan on Saturday afternoon. "It's something we'll be monitoring."
For now, a low pressure trough is hanging over the Tennessee Valley. Should the forecast bear out, the low pressure would move south next week, into the northeastern gulf, according to the National Hurricane Center. As it drifts west, the system could develop into a tropical depression or storm. Either way, it will bring heavy rains.
On Saturday, the National Hurricane Center said the chance of this tropical system developing in the next five days was low, about 20 percent.
"It's not going to be a quick process for these things to spin up, if they ever do," McKaughan said.
The Tampa Bay region can expect increased rainfall. Otherwise, the impact from the weather system remains unclear.
With 80-degree waters in the Gulf of Mexico, July brings heightened possibilities for storms.
Floridians should have their hurricane plans and gear in place, McKaughan said, but if they don't, then this looming question mark of a storm is another reason to handle the season's logistics now.
Hurricane season ends Nov. 30.
Contact Claire McNeill at email@example.com or (727) 893-8321. Follow @clairemcneill.