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Get your coats ready, Tampa Bay. Tuesday rain ushers in winter, Christmas cold front

The coldest day of the week will be Wednesday, when temperatures in northern Tampa Bay could drop as low as 40.
A shopper walks in the rain towards Southern Hospitality, a store in Plant City, on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021.
A shopper walks in the rain towards Southern Hospitality, a store in Plant City, on Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2021. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Dec. 21, 2021|Updated Dec. 21, 2021

It was a rainy Tuesday morning in Tampa Bay, but the showers bring good news for those tired of this year’s December heat. A cold front, appropriately arriving on the first day of winter, has reached our region and will make for a pleasant Christmas week.

Here is a day-by-day breakdown of what to expect.

A Wednesday as chilly as 40

The last — and only — time Tampa reached 50 degrees since the beginning of fall came a day before Thanksgiving, on Nov. 24.

Much of Tampa Bay will dip well below that Tuesday, making Wednesday the coldest day of the season thus far.

The northern parts of our region are forecast to reach 40, while Hillsborough and Pinellas counties will have lows around 50, says Spectrum Bay News 9 meteorologist Josh Linker. Windy weather may make that cool air feel even chillier.

The sweater weather is a stark contrast to the rest of December so far. Temperatures hit 86 last week three times, setting daily records Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

While no rain is expected, Linker still cautions against boating on Wednesday. Winds will be at 15 knots and a small craft advisory will be in effect in the morning.

Pristine football weather Thursday

Florida Gators and UCF Knights fans can rejoice.

The weather will be nearly perfect for Thursday’s Gasparilla Bowl at Raymond James Stadium between the teams. There will be a high of 70 and a low of 50 for the day as a whole, while slightly cloudy skies are expected for the 7 p.m. kickoff.

No rain or heavy wind is expected for Tampa Bay. Boating conditions will have a moderate chop Thursday morning but will return to smooth waters by evening.

Florida Gators fans are seen in the stands as they celebrate a Florida Gators touchdown against the South Florida Bulls on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 in Tampa.
Florida Gators fans are seen in the stands as they celebrate a Florida Gators touchdown against the South Florida Bulls on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021 in Tampa. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Those electing to watch the game from home in Citrus and Hernando counties will do so while having temperatures dipping into the mid-40s.

Clear skies for a sleigh ride on Friday

An initial forecast last week for Christmas Eve projected Santa would be dodging raindrops as he entered Tampa Bay.

That’s no longer the case. Instead, the man in red will have clear skies as he flies into Florida’s Gulf Coast. No rain is expected Friday while temperatures continue to warm slightly.

Bob Distelcamp, 68, who is dressed as Santa, gives a high before taking pictures with a child at International Plaza in Tampa on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021.
Bob Distelcamp, 68, who is dressed as Santa, gives a high before taking pictures with a child at International Plaza in Tampa on Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]

There will a high of 70 and a low of 54 Friday. Tampa Bay’s northern counties will still be in the 40s overnight after the sun sets that day at 5:41 p.m.

Just like Santa, Tampa Bay boaters will also have smooth sailing Friday. Calm waters are expected in both the morning and afternoon.

A pleasant Christmas Day on Saturday

Tampa Bay will have milder temperatures by the weekend and is poised for a pleasant Christmas Day.

There is an expected high of 72, a low of 57 and no chance of rain in the forecast on Saturday. That’s typical weather for December but may be appreciated all the more after the warm month overall.

This year’s mild Christmas contrasts with last year’s holiday, which was the coldest Tampa Bay had experienced in nearly two decades.

Tens of thousands of lights on display at the Oakdale Christmas house pictured on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021 in St. Petersburg.
Tens of thousands of lights on display at the Oakdale Christmas house pictured on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021 in St. Petersburg. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

Post-Christmas warmup

The Christmas miracle of cooler weather may end once the holiday passes.

Temperatures for northern Tampa Bay will finally exit the 40s by Monday while Hillsborough and Pinellas counties will have lows in the upper 50s.

The forecast for Sunday is a high of 76 and a low of 55. Monday will be slightly warmer, with a high of 79 and low of 59. No rain is expected either day.

Christmas floats are pictured in a pool at the Keystone Motel, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021 in St. Pete Beach.
Christmas floats are pictured in a pool at the Keystone Motel, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021 in St. Pete Beach. [ MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times ]
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