Tropical Storm Nestor formed on Friday and threatened to bring dangerous storm surge and tropical storm-force winds to the Panhandle and portions of the Florida Gulf Coast through Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
But the Tampa Bay area should experience mostly wind and rain tonight into Saturday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Nicole Carlisle.
“It’s really gonna be more of a rain and thunderstorm impact for the bay area," she said.
Rain will slowly move from the Gulf of Mexico inland through Saturday. There is a 100-percent chance of rain overnight, tapering off as we move into mid-day Saturday. The strongest storms are expected overnight, with the possibility of an isolated tornado, which is common with tropical systems.
“It’s fast-moving,” Carlisle said, “so we’re not expecting lots and lots of rain. It’s gonna be out of here pretty much by Sunday."
Conditions will be a little breezy, Carlisle said, with sustained winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour and higher gusts if thunderstorms form.
Elevated water levels of 1 to 3 feet are expected along the coast, from Clearwater Beach north to Indian Pass, where a storm surge warning has been issued, and into Tampa Bay.
As of 4 p.m., the system was located in the central gulf, about 150 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River and 280 miles southwest of Panama City. It was moving northeast at 22 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour and higher gusts.
Nestor’s center will approach the northern Gulf Coast later today and tonight and move across portions of the southeastern U.S. Saturday and Sunday as it becomes a post-tropical cyclone. It is expected to move off the coast of North Carolina and into the western Atlantic Ocean by late Sunday.
The greatest impact is expected along the Nature Coast, well to the north of Tampa Bay and along the western Panhandle, around Panama City Beach and Destin.
A tropical storm warning is in effect for residents from the Mississippi/Alabama border to Yankeetown, Florida and from Grand Isle, La., to the mouth of the Pearl River.
Florida’s tropical storm warning stretches from Navarre to Yankeetown. A storm surge warning remains in effect from Indian Pass to Clearwater Beach.
But the important thing is that the storm isn’t expected to get stronger or spend enough time around Florida to do too much damage.
“It’s not gonna really have a lot of time,” Carlisle said. “It’s moving pretty fast, too, so we’re fairly confident it’s gonna be on land sometime tomorrow morning.”
Hernando County, which is under the storm surge warning, opened a self-serve sandbag site on Friday at Linda Pedersen Park, 6300 Shoal Line Blvd., in Spring Hill. Residents were asked to bring their own shovel.
2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
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