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Tampa Bay cools down, but a tropical system may be brewing in the Caribbean

A cool front brings cooler, drier conditions. But forecasters are watching the development of a potential tropical system near the Yucatán Peninsula.

As the season’s first true cold front sinks into Florida, forecasters are watching a potential flare up of nasty weather in the Caribbean Sea that reminds us: It’s still hurricane season.

The front should bring cooler temperatures and drier conditions to Tampa Bay. High temperatures will stay in the low to mid 80s after the front moves by while overnight lows will fall into the 60s. There will likely even be some 50s in the overnight hours in Pasco County and counties north of the bay area.

There’s also a 20 percent chance of rain Wednesday as the system moves through, then the rain will take a short break.

“There’s going to be a big drop in humidity, and we’ll notice it (Wednesday) morning,” Spectrum Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay said. “The coolest weather will be Thursday morning. That will probably last for two or three day and night cycles.”

The Spectrum Bay News 9 weather forecast for the week of Sept. 28 shows expected rain late Tuesday followed by cooler and drier conditions. [ spectrum Bay News 9 ]

What happens after that depends on an area of low pressure that the National Hurricane Center warns could form over the western Caribbean just off the Yucatán Peninsula in the coming days.

“Environmental conditions are forecast to be conducive for some development ... and a tropical depression could form late this week or this weekend while the system moves slowly west-northwestward over the northwestern Caribbean Sea,” the hurricane center said in its Tuesday advisory.

The Gulf of Mexico is where warm waters can speed up storms, but Clay said conditions might be different this time. The cold front will dry out the air over the Gulf. Hurricane Sally, which made landfall in Alabama on Sept. 15 as a Category 2 storm, may also leave the Gulf less “hospitable” for storm formation.

Still, this is a historically active hurricane season and October is about to start.

“We have to remember that we have been hit more in October than any other time of the month,” Clay said. So meteorologists will be keeping a close eye on the Caribbean Sea and Tropical Atlantic in the coming weeks.

That area is a common nursery for tropical systems this time of year, and they frequently spin into the Gulf of Mexico. Forecasters gave it a 50 percent chance of developing in the next five days.

This storm season has already seen 23 named storms develop, making 2020 the second busiest on record — behind only the 2005 season, which had 27 named storms. Like 2005, this is only the second hurricane season in which forecasters have had to resort to using the Greek alphabet to name storms.

If this system becomes a named storm, it would be called Gamma. Hurricane season officials ends on Nov. 30, but storms could keep forming later into the year.

• • •

2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane

PREPARE FOR COVID-19 AND THE STORM: The CDC's tips for this pandemic-hurricane season

PREPARE YOUR STUFF: Get your documents and your data ready for a storm

BUILD YOUR KIT: The stuff you’ll need to stay safe — and comfortable — for the storm

PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

Lessons from Hurricane Michael

What the Panhandle’s top emergency officials learned from Michael

‘We’re not going to give up.’ What a school superintendent learned from Michael

What Tampa Bay school leaders fear most from a storm

Tampa Bay’s top cops fear for those who stay behind

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