An incoming cold front from the northwest has dropped several inches of rain throughout Tampa Bay this week, producing rainfall that nearly matched the total amount for July in some areas.
More rainfall Wednesday, locally heavy, was expected to flood streets and strand vehicles in the region during the evening commute and throughout the week, the National Weather Service in Ruskin said. People living along rivers were advised to monitor forecasts.
Tampa Bay recorded approximately 7.3 inches of rain last month, said Bryan Mroczka of the National Weather Service. Exact amounts varied by individual cities, especially with Tropical Storm Elsa dumping much of its rain on coastal areas, but the month was the definition of average: The 67th wettest and 66th driest July in Tampa Bay since record-keeping began 130 years ago.
But average quickly turned to above-average for the region.
Inverness recorded just under 8 inches of rain in a 48-hour period from 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m. Wednesday, Mroczka said, putting the city above the region’s monthly rainfall average of 7.77 inches in just four days. Down the road, an official site at Brooksville recorded 3.5 inches — on the low side compared to the rest of Hernando County where some minor flooding occurred Tuesday.
“There were some areas that basically got close to their monthly average in a 48-hour period,” Mroczka said. “It’s just unusual to see whole swaths of a county and region experience that, which we did this week.”
Tampa International Airport recorded about 2 inches of rain to start the week, while St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport recorded 2.7 inches.
It was a wet start to August, historically Tampa Bay’s rainiest month. Rain totals could grow even higher if activity in the tropics picks up soon, as expected.
“We are at a situation where retention ponds, streams, and the ground in general cannot take much more water,” the Weather Service said in a special weather statement Wednesday.
After a historically fast start to the Atlantic hurricane season in May and June, no storm has formed since Elsa. The storm threatened Tampa Bay but caused little damage here and dissipated July 14. Still, conditions now point to far more tropical activity during the next two weeks, with a number of named storms likely to develop in August, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
More storms mean a higher probability they affect Florida. As of Wednesday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center was monitoring two systems off the coast of Africa that have the potential to become the season’s next named storms later this month.
Meantime, Mroczka says Tampa Bay can expect a return to a normal weather pattern starting Thursday. That means dry mornings, followed by afternoon showers. The highs for the rest of the week will be slightly cooler than usual, topping out at 87 on Saturday and Sunday.