Dry no more: Tampa Bay is set to get soaked this week

[National Hurricane Center]

Tampa Bay’s dryspell ended emphatically on Monday.

A low-pressure system churning its way up the Gulf of Mexico doused the region with up to three inches of rain Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

The potential tropical system brought soaking rain and thunderstorms to the region, with areas of Brandon and East Hillsborough seeing 3 inches of rain and parts of Pinellas getting a little over 2 inches, said meteorologist Andrew McKaughan.

Those rain clouds aren’t going anywhere, either.

The weather service predicts the storms will pour a lot of rain onto an otherwise drier-than-normal Tampa Bay area. Forecasters say in addition to the 2 inches of rainfall Monday, parts of the area stand a chance of up to 4 inches by Thursday.

"Bottom line is expect a wet week," McKaughan said.

Rainfall on the remaining days of the week shouldn’t be as heavy and as gloomy as Monday, with storms moving in and out throughout the day as during typical during Florida summers, he said.

The rain is expected to last through the weekend.

The wet week is a welcome reprieve for the area, which has been relatively dry for most of 2018.

The Tampa Bay region has had about 10 inches of rain this year, about 2½ less than the average annual total, said weather service meteorologist Stephen Shiveley. The extra rain this week will help the area reach the yearly average by the end of the week.

"Winter is always a little dry for Florida," Shiveley said, "so any rain we get this time of year will be good."

In other parts of the state, firefighters hope the weeklong rains will help them contain wildfires. Significant rainfall has contributed to containment of fires near Placid Lakes, according to the Florida Forest Service, which is about a 30-minute drive south of Sebring.

"On certain sections of the Jack’s and the Mini Ranch Road wildfires, the fires are burning 3 feet below the surface," Forest Area supervisor Joe deBree said. "It’s too soon to know if the rain will extinguish the wildfires, but with this week’s forecast, we’re hopeful."

EXTENDED FORECAST: The 10-day outlook for the Tampa Bay area

Tampa Bay will remain under a stormy siege throughout the week, the weather service said, as the system slowly moves north. Expect chances of rain above 50 percent with an increased chance in the afternoon due to the increased heat.

"We’re looking at the system hitting landfall around the Panhandle or Alabama area around Wednesday or Thursday," Shiveley said. "But even after it hits that area, we’ll still see rainfall in our area throughout the weekend."

High chance of showers and thunderstorms will keep folks around Tampa Bay indoors and bring temperatures down to the mid 80s. Overnight lows will be in the mid 70s with rain persistent throughout.

There will be breaks in the rain, forecasters said, but skies will remain overcast with a lot of moisture in the air.

If the storm develops into a subtropical system or tropical storm, it will be the first of the year and named Alberto.

@NHC_Atlantic giving 40% in 5 days. Low has potential to acquire subtropical characteristics. Big picture will be rainfall across FL and southern states over the next few days. #hurricaneseason #Atlantic pic.twitter.com/luEH87ieg9

— Ryan Knapp (@rknappwx) May 14, 2018

We continue to watch an area of low pressure over the eastern #Gulf. Impressive satellite presentation this morning from #GOES16. Main impact – Heavy Rain. #flwx pic.twitter.com/fplDY4nhvx

— NWS Tampa Bay (@NWSTampaBay) May 14, 2018

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