While winter storms stretch from coast to coast, Florida is poised to dodge the cold weather that will cause thermometers across the country to plummet this week.
But the Tampa Bay region will be dealing with a different kind of weather: Rain, and lots of it.
An area of high pressure in the Gulf of Mexico is acting “like a shield” that is keeping cold air away from the Sunshine State, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dustin Norman. The result: Summertime rains will fall during wintertime.
Tampa Bay will likely get soaked on Valentine’s Day, Norman said, with the wet weather continuing all week. There will be a 50 percent chance of rain Sunday, followed by a 60 percent chance on Monday night and Tuesday.
Though it may look like July outside, it won’t nearly be as hot. Meteorologists forecast high temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s to start the week, with lows bottoming out at 67 degrees in the bay area.
Valentine’s Day also arrives with the risk of severe weather this weekend.
There will be a chance for an isolated tornado to pop up overnight through Sunday afternoon, Norman said. The weather service’s forecast also includes a chance of thunderstorms Sunday night and Monday.
Why all the rain?
The area of high pressure to our east — in addition to protecting us from the cold — also encourages winds from the tropics to turn toward Florida and bring moisture north.
It’s also not all that uncommon to have a week of wet and warm weather in February, Norman said. And it’s temporary — high temperatures are expected to drop back around 70 by Friday, which is about average for February.
“It’s a period of above-normal temperatures but it’s not going to last like this all the way into spring and summer,” Norman said.
Temperatures elsewhere in the contiguous U.S. are expected to remain below average “pretty much everywhere” to start the week, Norman said. That includes a forecasted low of 5 degrees in Dallas on Monday and a high of -5 in Minneapolis on Sunday.