1. Local Weather

Rain returns to Tampa Bay

TAMPA — A cloudy start gave way to rain across the Tampa Bay area on Thursday morning, and forecasters said to expect scattered thunderstorms later in the day as well as through the weekend.

After days of sunshine, local conditions took a stormy turn. According to WTSP10 Weather, scattered thunderstorms in the gulf brought heavy rain and frequent lightning Thursday. The rain was expected to shift inland through the afternoon. Rain chances were 50 to 60 percent.

Even with the storms, it will remain hot, meteorologist Bobby Deskins predicted. Highs will hover near 90, with a heat index over 100.

But did the ground have sufficient time to dry out during the time between the last bout of storms and what's to come?

"The ground itself is OK for the most part," WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Bobby Deskins said. "But there are still plenty of rivers that are at or slightly above the flood stage and are forecast to stay that way through Friday."

But if the Bay area experiences a tropical system with tropical rain, he said, that could completely change depending on the intensity and size of the storm.

"The structure really plays a role where the rain's going to be heaviest," Deskins said.

Along with the scattered thunderstorms this weekend come potentially hazardous sea conditions. The National Weather Service issued a marine statement Thursday advising boaters to heed caution.

Potentially affected coastal water areas include Charlotte Harbor, Pine Island, Bonita Beach, Englewood and Tarpon Springs.

Special marine warnings are issued when forecasters expect winds reaching speeds of 34 knots — or about 40 mph — and tend to be indicative of dangerous sea conditions, thunderstorms and water spouts. These conditions can also elevate sea levels and cause boats to capsize.

"Being a mariner and out on the water, you always have to pay close attention to the weather," National Weather Service meteorologist Rick Davis said.

Boaters and anyone at sea should dock immediately upon learning of a special marine warning, he added, and wait out the dangerous conditions. The warnings typically span about two hours.