Rain, storms, high winds to crash St. Patrick’s Day celebrations

St. Patrick’s Day is here, but rain, thunderstorms and gusty winds are about to put a damper on any party plans.

Rain was already falling in Citrus and Hernando counties well before daybreak, and a line of storms was moving in from the Gulf of Mexico toward the Tampa Bay area. The rain chance for the day is 90 percent, although there is only a slight chance of severe thunderstorms, Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez said.

“It’s St. Patrick’s Day, and a lot of people want to get outside and celebrate, but you certainly want to pay attention to the weather,” Marquez said. “it’s really not just this morning, either. The chance of showers and storms will continue for this afternoon and evening for some of us.”

That could pose a problem for restaurants and bars that have outdoor tents set up. Winds over Tampa Bay were 20 to 25 mph over Tampa Bay, gusting to more than 30 mph, in advance of the storms, Marquez said.

“The winds are going to stay high today,” Marquez said. “We have a lot of advisories for people who, maybe, want to go to the beach or be out on the water today. This won’t be a good day for that, but conditions will be improving later in the week.”

The high winds were posing a problem early today for commuters traveling over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

“We’re seeing wind gusts on the Skyway well into the 30s right now,” Bay News 9 traffic expert Chuck Henson said. “So drivers of those high-profile vehicles are really going to have both hands on the wheel.”

The rain, which is leading a cold front, won’t push all the way through until well into tomorrow. Tomorrow’s rain chance is 40 percent, although mainly for the first part of the day, Marquez said. 

Temperatures will be somewhat cooler after today. Morning lows will be in the 50s for the next three mornings. Daytime temperatures will stay in the 70s all week.