Heavy rain ahead for Tampa Bay with a high chance of a tropical depression in Gulf

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There is a high probability of a tropical depression forming in the Gulf of Mexico. It is forecasted to move west -- away from Tampa Bay -- but not before dumping rain along the coast.

There is a trough, or a weak piece of energy, near Atlanta that will drift south and into the northeastern portion of the Gulf of Mexico between Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center predicts, where it will encounter warmer waters. There is a 80 percent chance it will develop into a tropical system in the next five days.

“It’s going to start to create a little spin,” said FOX 13’s meteorologist Dave Osterberg. “It’s going to start to create, perhaps, a tropical system.”

Osterberg said whether it’s tropical or non-tropical, it doesn’t make a difference for Tampa Bay residents and visitors.

“[It’s] just going to be throwing moisture on shore, and it’s going to be raining for the next few days on and off,” he explained. “Then, this low – as it develops across the Gulf – is going to move westward and eventually head over to Houston or Galveston or Lake Charles – somewhere over there with the potential of it being a tropical storm. Obviously, the further west it goes, the less of an impact it’s going to have on us.”

“For us, it’s just rain,” he added. “Rain is the theme of the week.”

The rainfall forecast from the Weather Prediction Center shows at least several inches of rain for the entire east and central portion of the Gulf of Mexico – within 7 days. One computer model shows there could be at least three inches of rain in Tampa Bay.

“That’s a tremendous amount of rain even into our state right along the coast,” Osterberg said. “Several inches of rain are anticipated. This is over the course of the next week, mind you, but still, it just shows you the rainy pattern that we are going to be in.”

Rain chances for Tampa Bay are between 50 and 70 percent during the week. Those rain chances decrease to about 40 percent by Sunday. 

If the weak system does turn into a tropical storm, it will be named "Tropical Storm Barry." The disturbance is forecasted to drift west by the end of the week.