Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
• Expect clear skies and cool temperatures. The highs will just reach the mid 60s, according to the National Weather Service. The coldest temps will hover around the 40 degree mark overnight Friday into Saturday. That will be the coldest night of the week but don't expect it to get warm for the next week or so. Expect lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s for the next six days. Watch out for Sunday temperatures in Hillsborough County, too.
• On Saturday, pirates will once again storm downtown Tampa during the annual Gasparilla invasion. Hundreds of thousands will crowd the streets to participate in another day of bead-throwing and debauchery. See Gasparilla photos from every decade since the first invasion in 1904
• From free coffee to food banks, there is grassroots help for hundreds of thousands of government workers who aren't getting paid. But what about their dogs and cats? People are stepping up there, too.
• With the partial government shutdown preventing non-essential federal personnel from working, some key planning activities simply aren't happening. That fact is leaving some hurricane forecasters concerned.
• Hillsborough County's teacher of the year was a decorated saxophonist at Kigh High School who returned with a doctore to teach instrumental music at his alma mater. Marlene Sokol introduces you to Dakeyan "Dr. Dre" Graham. He and 12 other finalists were chosen from among 687 nominees and honored on Thursday night.
• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including the legendary Gladys Knight, the Florida Orchestra plays Tom Petty and there's a free show by Fastball who ruled the airwaves like an eternal summer slacking with The Way in 1998.
• The Synapse Summit seeks to knit together a growing Tampa Bay startup community About 600 people attended three years ago. Last year, 3,300 came. This year, the crowd topped 5,500, turning Amalie Arena into an anthill of tech and entrepreneurship.
• Newly appointed Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel has resigned from office after photos of him posing as a female Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface were obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat. The paper shared the photos with the governor's office Thursday, which had not previously seen the photos. "There's nothing I can say," Ertel told the paper.
• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.
• The University of South Florida St. Petersburg has called 430 high school seniors to apologize for false acceptance letters. To avoid similar mistakes in the future, the university is accelerating plans to switch its admissions system within the next 30 days.
• For the latest education coverage, make sure to read The Gradebook. And check out the Gradebook podcast as education reporter Jeffrey Solochek leads a weekly discussion about Florida education.
• Tampa Bay Times business columnist Graham Brink sounds off on St. Petersburg's controversial 50-story condo tower saying, "That's what downtowns are for."
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• Check out the Times online Business page for the latest on the economy, jobs, real estate, retail and workplace culture.
• After experiencing their worst attendance since 2010 and a drop in fans at Raymond James Stadium for the third straight year, the Bucs are reducing the cost for season pass holders to attend a game next season. The lowest entry level price to watch the Bucs play at home will be only $30, plus a Tampa Sports Authority fee and sales tax.
• The 21-year-old gunman who stormed a SunTrust Bank branch in Sebring forced five women inside to lay down on the floor and then executed all of them, authorities said. Learn the latest, chilling details on the mass shooting, and why authorities still don't have a motive.
• It was 30 years ago that the state of Florida executed serial killer Ted Bundy for his crimes. Here is a recounting of his deadly 1978 attack on Florida State University that led to his capture and eventual death.
• Our podcast, Life of the Party, has a new episode today with Stephanie Hayes and Brittany Volk pondering just what is Gasparilla? Let them help you fake your way through party talk with the latest celebrity news, entertainment headlines, gossip and other weird stuff that will make you the most interesting person in the room.
• Check out the Times photo and video channels for the most compelling visuals.
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Read the Tampa Bay Times online Sports page with the latest news about the Lightning, Bucs, Rays, Bulls, Gators, Noles and high school sports.
• Novak Djokovic moved closer to a record seventh Australian Open title by beating No. 28 Lucas Pouille 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals. Djokovic dominates Pouille; Nadal next at Australian Open
• St. Petersburg's Danielle Collins fell to two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 7-6, 6-0 in an Australian Open semifinal that. Now that Collins is poised to continue climbing up the tennis ranks, columnist John Romano writes that the 25-year-old tennis pro's story is finally playing out on her terms.
• Spring training is on its way, and the Times has everything you need to plan to watch the boys of summer take the field as they get ready for a new season of Major League Baseball.
• While the election of Yankees closer extraordinaire Mariano Rivera as the first unanimous choice made headlines all over, Marc Topkin explains that the mood was much different at the Odessa home of Roy Halladay, who was also elected. He died in a 2017 plane crash, and Topkin writes about how his wife Brandy and sons Braden and Ryan are dealing with the news.
• To get the latest Rays' news from the Times this offseason, click here and follow Topkin on @Twitter at @TBTimes_Rays.
• Is the Lightning's Steven Stamkos playing the best hockey of his career? Diana Nearhos explains the 57 reasons — the 57 points he's scored at the All-Star break — that has the 28-year-old Stamkos on pace for a 95-point season, which would be the most he's scored since that 60-goal season at age 22.
• The Times can keep you up-to-date on the Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup: Click here for the latest news throughout the season and get the updates on @Twitter from Nearhos at @dianacnearhos and Mari Faiello at @faiello_mari.
• The Bucs have a new head coach. Keep up with all the offseason changes and get ready for the NFL draft by following the Times' Bucs page which is just a click away at tampabay.com. For the latest team news on @Twitter, follow Rick Stroud at @NFLSTROUD and fellow beat writer Eduardo A. Encina at @EddieInTheYard.
• Keep up with coverage of Gators' athletics this winter by following beat writer Matt Baker on Twitter at @MBakerTBTimes.
• All the Bulls news you can use is right here from Times beat writer Joey Knight. Follow him on Twitter for the latest at @TBTimes_Bulls.