Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rain, occasional squalls in Tampa - severe weather will stay to the east

Last Edited: Tuesday, 29 Aug 2006, 4:58 PM EDT

TAMPA – As Tropical Storm Ernesto moves closer to Florida, questions still loom about where the storm will end up. FOX 13's weather team is keeping a close eye on its projected track.

The 5 p.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center indicated Ernesto was located at 24.3N, 80.2W, having moved into the open water in the Florida Straits. It was centered about 100 miles south of MIami, and it was moving northwest at 13 mph.

FOX 13 Meteorologist Howard Shapiro said this latest advisory shows some slight changes to the projected path of the storm, but not a significant overall change.

The new track takes the storm slightly further to the west than originally anticipated. The latest advisory indicates that the storm would move slightly up Florida's west coast by 8 a.m. Wednesday, and then make the right turn forecasters have been expecting. It would continue across the state, exiting somewhere near Jacksonville.

With the morning advisory came a tropical storm watch for much of the Bay Area. The watch extends all the way up the west coast of Florida to Tarpon Springs.

Shapiro says if this track holds true, it would mean that Hardee, Desoto, Polk, and Highlands Counties would see some effects of the storm. But, he says Skytower HD Vipir indicates it's still the east coast that will bear the brunt of the weather.

"With most of the active weather in a tropical system on its east side, then the brunt of this is going to be hitting the east coast of our state more than it is the west coast of our state," Shapiro said.

He says the Bay Area can expect some rainy weather with occasional squalls moving through, but most of the severe weather that comes with the storm will stay to our east.

Shapiro says we can expect to see conditions continue to deteriorate late tonight and continuing through tomorrow.

The storm is expected to accelerate as it moves north through Florida.

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