After a much cooler morning with lows in the upper 40s and lower 50s across Tampa Bay, temperatures struggled to get into the 60s despite the ample sunshine. Both Pinellas County reporting stations topped out at 61 degrees, Tampa International Airport reached 62 degrees, and MacDill Air Force Base was the warmest area location with a high of 64 degrees. Forecast highs for Wednesday had been expected to reach the upper 60s and lower 70s, so the cooler air moving into the area was a bit stronger than originally anticipated.
A freeze, frost, or neither of the above
The Tampa Bay Area National Weather Service has issued its first Freeze Warnings of the season for inland areas of Levy, Citrus, Sumter, and Hernando Counties. Some cities and towns located in this area include Inverness, Brooksville, Spring Hill, and Wildwood. Temperatures at these locations will fall into the 30 to 33 degree range inland, and into the middle to upper 30s along the coastal areas of these counties. A little farther south, and closer to Tampa Bay, patchy frost is possible in inland Pasco County, Polk County, and maybe even areas well away from the coast in eastern Hillsborough County. Cities and towns in these affected areas include Land O’ Lakes, Dade City, Lakeland, Plant City, Mango, and Valrico. While parts of Pasco and Polk Counties may dip into the middle 30s, it is difficult to know for certain if the frost will actually develop in areas in Hillsborough County. Temperatures there should remain in the upper 30s, but the possibility of frost cannot be ruled out.
As for the big cities around Tampa Bay, there is no threat of a frost or a freeze for Thursday morning. Lows in Tampa will stay between 43 and 47 degrees, while in St. Petersburg lows will bottom out between 45 and 50 degrees. Thursday afternoon will feature mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies, and high temperatures in the 65 to 70 degree range. Friday morning will be a bit milder, as lows for the area range from 42 to 52 degrees. By Friday afternoon, skies will once again be partly cloudy, with high temperatures reaching between 67 and 73 degrees. The rain threat through Friday is virtually zero.
New Years Weekend forecast
Looking further ahead towards New Years Weekend, it appears the warming trend will continue for Tampa Bay. For Saturday morning, expect milder temperatures, with lows of 50 to 58 degrees. Skies Saturday afternoon will be partly cloudy, with highs of 72 to 78 degrees. New Years Eve night and New Years Day morning will be slightly warmer, as lows only drop into the 52 to 60 degree range. For New Years Day, residents and vacationers should expect stunning weather. Skies will be partly cloudy, and highs will reach 75 to 80 degrees. By Monday morning, lows will drop to between 52 and 60 degrees. For Monday, when the Georgia Bulldogs and the Michigan State Spartans will meet in the Outback Bowl, expect partly cloudy skies, with highs between 70 and 75 degrees. There is no mention of rain for the holiday weekend. For more detailed local weather forecasts, visit the Tampa Bay Area National Weather Service website at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/tbw/, and the Storm Team 8 Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/StormTeam8/WFLA.