TAMPA — For now, it looks like the fourth named storm of 2012 will land on someone else's shores.
But a reprieve from Tropical Storm Debby won't spare the Tampa Bay area days of rain, thunderstorms, moderate winds, high surf and rip currents, according to the National Weather Service in Ruskin.
"The main impact will be lots of rain and above normal winds," said John McMichael, a weather service meteorologist.
Debby's formation on Saturday makes it the earliest the fourth storm of the season has ever formed. The previous mark was set by Dennis, which became a tropical storm on July 5, 2005.
Tropical Storm Debby was moving slowly northward from waters off Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula when the center issued its 5 p.m. advisory, and wasn't expected to move much from that spot in coming days.
While Debby was still balanced between two pressure systems that could tip it eastward toward Florida or westward toward Texas, forecasters said it seemed to be growing more likely that the storm would take the westward track.
But either way, Tampa Bay area residents should rethink their outdoor plans through Tuesday.
"Expect heavy rain especially Sunday and Monday, possibly into Tuesday," Bay News 9 forecaster Diane Kacmarik said Saturday afternoon. "Tides will be a bit higher than normal, maybe 1 to 2 feet. High tides will be around daybreak Sunday and again at 5 p.m. to 7 p.m."
A small craft advisory has been issued because of the storm in the gulf as well as a beach advisory from the Bay area down to Fort Myers.
"There's an increased threat of rip currents and the surf could get as high a 2 to 4 feet up near Cedar Key," McMichael said.
Rain chances are 80 percent for today, 70 percent for Monday and 60 percent for Tuesday.