1. Local Weather

Strong storms in Tampa Bay to usher in cooler weather

Forecasters predict strong thunderstorms with wind gusts up to 30 mph by this afternoon.

Tampa Bay will wake up to cooler weather Thursday morning, but not before braving a series of strong thunderstorms expected this afternoon, forecasters said.

Heavy cloud cover will give way to showers and wind gusts up to 30 mph by midday, according to the National Weather Service’s Ruskin outpost.

“Damaging wind gusts and isolated tornadoes will be the primary concerns with these storms,” the weather service’s 5 a.m. forecast said.

An area of low pressure from the Gulf of Mexico will slide across the northern half of the Florida peninsula this evening, dragging a cold front behind it.

Rain chances will clear out overnight as the cold front pushes south, forecasters said. Northerly breezes on Thursday are expected to bring in cooler, drier air and should keep temperatures below normal in the mid-60s.

On the Nature Coast, low temperatures could dip into the mid 30s on Friday, with wind chills several degrees lower. Cooler weather should stick around through Saturday morning before conditions begin to moderate, forecasters said. But another weaker cold front is expected to move into the area late Sunday or Monday.

Several patches of fog settled in over west central Florida early Wednesday, generally along the Interstate 4 corridor, but weren’t expected to spread.

Gulf waves will begin to break onshore this afternoon, creating a high risk of rip currents at area beaches, forecasters said. Onshore swells will keep that risk high and a rip current warning is in effect through 7 p.m. Friday.