The Tampa area has not had a drop of rain this month, but an area of low pressure moving toward Florida this week could change that.
The National Weather Service is anticipating elevated chances of rain this week, with the highest probability of showers on Wednesday and Thursday. Across Tampa Bay, Tuesday will have a slight chance of rain, but chances climb to 50% on Wednesday night into Thursday.
The area of low pressure, which on Monday afternoon was in the western Gulf of Mexico, just offshore of Texas, is not to be confused with another area of low pressure that the National Hurricane Center is monitoring, and that is likely to develop later this week in the Caribbean Sea.
That system in the southwestern Caribbean will likely become a tropical depression, though it won’t affect Florida, according to Ross Giarratana, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Tampa Bay office.
The National Hurricane Center said the system could produce heavy rain over parts of Central America and the Greater Antilles later this week.
Across Tampa Bay, the weather service is expecting up to an inch and a half of rain from the low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico, but was not expecting it to bring severe weather.
“As we head into Wednesday, I think some rumbles of thunder are not out of the question,” Giarratana said. “So there could be some thunderstorms, but severe weather chances look to be really on the low side.”
“For the most part, it could be a good situation where we get the beneficial rain, and we do not have any severe weather with it,” Giarratana added.
The Tampa Bay area is sorely in need of showers. Southwest Florida, including Tampa Bay, endured its driest rainy season in more than two decades this year. The drought caused Tampa Bay Water to issue a water shortage warning in early October, and now has Southwest Florida water managers considering limiting irrigation.
The water management district will vote Tuesday on whether outdoor irrigation should be cut to one day a week in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties.
In Tampa, the area’s rain deficit is running about 15 inches below normal, Giarratana said. Portions of Pinellas and Hillsborough are in an “extreme drought,” which entails “extreme fire danger” and widespread water shortages, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“As far as improving our drought conditions are concerned, it’d be hard to really see too much improvement given our rainfall deficits in the area,” Giarratana said. “It won’t be enough to completely erase the drought, but any rain will be welcome news.”
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