For most of this summer season, an easterly wind flow off of the Atlantic Ocean has established itself across the Florida Peninsula. For Tampa Bay and the rest of west-central Florida, this has led to mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies, higher than average afternoon temperatures, slightly below normal humidity, and strong thunderstorms moving in from the east toward the Gulf of Mexico almost every evening. Even though the easterly flow does bring somewhat less humid weather to Tampa and surrounding cities, this pattern also increases the likelihood of west-central Florida getting heavier rainfall and potentially severe thunderstorms from the afternoon to late evening hours.
Wind pattern change will last through the weekend
However, this week the wind flow has turned westerly from off the 90 degree waters of the Gulf of Mexico onto the Florida Peninsula. For Tampa Bay and the rest of west-central Florida, this means additional cloud cover, higher humidity, higher dew point temperatures, warmer morning lows, and more extreme heat index values in the afternoon. However, despite the increase in heat index readings, actual air temperatures actually decrease slightly in this pattern. Also, perhaps even more surprisingly given the extra clouds and increased humidity levels, Tampa and surrounding areas tend to get less precipitation than in the easterly flow.
This is because anything that does fall is in the form of early morning showers, and the showers will build into thunderstorms as the sea breezes interact and the storms come into contact with the higher terrain in the middle of the state. So the east coast tends to get the heaviest rainfall and has the greatest threat of severe weather when the sea breeze from the Gulf of Mexico dominates over the Atlantic Ocean’s sea breeze. And forecast models indicate the Gulf of Mexico sea breeze will dominate over the Florida Peninsula for at least the next seven days.
Weather forecast for west-central Florida through the holiday weekend
The weather forecast for Tampa Bay and the rest of west-central Florida from Wednesday, July 1 through Tuesday, July 7 calls for partly sunny to mostly skies, with rain and thunderstorm coverage averaging between 30 and 40 percent every day, mainly over areas east of Interstate 4. After morning lows between 77 and 83 degrees, afternoon highs will range from 90 to 95 degrees. Heat index readings will range from 100 to 105 degrees across most areas, but will exceed 105 in favored areas including MacDill Air Force Base.
Links to more weather information for west-central Florida
For further forecast details and information relating to the weather in west-central Florida, please visit the Tampa Bay Area National Weather Service website, the Storm Team 8 Facebook page, and Meteorologist Denis Phillips Facebook page.
The National Hurricane Center (NHC) does not forecast any tropical cyclone development within the next 48 hours. However, that can change quickly. So please keep up to date with the latest tropical weather outlooks by visiting the NHC website.