Whether it develops into a named storm or not, a broad area of low pressure over the southwestern Gulf of Mexico will bring wind, rain and possibly tornadoes to the Tampa Bay area this weekend.
A fast-moving system of showers and thunderstorms moving northeast over the Gulf continues to show signs of organization and has a 90-percent chance of tropical development over the next two-to-five days, according to the National Hurricane Center. Environmental conditions are conducive for additional development, and a tropical or subtropical storm is likely to form later today or tonight.
A turn toward the northeast is expected this afternoon or tonight, and a northeastward motion at a faster forward speed is expected on Friday and Saturday. On the forecast track, the system will approach the northern Gulf Coast Friday and Friday night.
If the system develops into a tropical or subtropical storm, it will be named Nestor.
The strongest winds for our area will be Friday night into Saturday afternoon, said Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.
Davis expects cloudy and breezy weather for most of Saturday, with clearing Saturday night into Sunday. Rain chances for the Tampa Bay area are 60-70 percent for Saturday and 30-50 percent on Sunday.
“Maybe some indoor plans Saturday,” Davis said, “but outdoor events and plans are probably fine on Sunday.”
Tampa Bay is expected to experience winds of 20 to 25 miles per hour with gusts that could reach 35 to 40 mph or even higher if we get a strong thunderstorm.
The National Hurricane Center issued a tropical storm warning for residents from the Mississippi/Alabama border to the Ochlockonee River in Florida. A tropical storm watch is in effect from east of the Ochlockonee River to Yankeetown.
A storm surge watch was issued for Florida’s Gulf Coast from Indian Pass to Clearwater, where storm surge inundation of up to 5 feet above ground is possible.
At this point, none of the models suggest the system developing into anything stronger than a tropical storm, with winds between 38-74 mph. But, Davis reminds, similar systems in the northeast Gulf of Mexico have spawned tornadoes for us in the past.
Even if the system doesn’t develop, Davis said, it’s going to bring strong, gusty, southwest winds that would push higher than normal tides in the area — probably 1-2 feet around Tampa Bay and higher amounts up north. Beach erosion, high waves and rip currents also are likely over the weekend.
2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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