The Fourth of July has — as it often does — embodied all aspects of a Florida summer day, from scorching hot heat indexes to afternoon thunderstorms.
The good news is, the worst of today’s heat is already past.
The bad news: The thunderstorms are just now beginning to hit Tampa Bay, and they’re only expected to weaken — not outright stop — in time for fireworks tonight.
“City officials tell you if the fireworks shows are on and off, but we can say we will definitely have some thunderstorms in the area throughout the night,” said Brian LaMarre, a forecaster with the National Weather Service. “Whether they go right where there’s a show scheduled is really hit-or-miss.”
In what’s perhaps good news for those who planned to see a show tonight, the worst of the storms hitting the area are doing so early in the afternoon, according to LaMarre.
Though things could change, LaMarre said the areas that are expected to get hit by thunderstorms the most, at least in the afternoon, are Westchase, Oldsmar and areas north of Tampa International Airport. As of 2:30 p.m., those three areas are under a severe thunderstorm warning, along with Tarpon Springs, Gibsonton and New Port Richey.
The National Weather Service released in their daily forecast this morning that rain chances are as high as 60 percent this afternoon, with a slight drop to 40 percent into the later hours of the night.
The government-run agency also tweeted out a warning to residents of the north Nature Coast — Hernando and Citrus counties — that there is a marginal risk for severe storms, with the main hazard being locally damaging winds.
Meanwhile, LaMarre had advice for Tampa Bay residents who plan to be outside or travel to a show.
“Really pay attention to lightning off in the distance,” LaMarre said. “If you can hear thunder, that will be the cue to go inside. When thunder roars, go indoors.”