MANATEE -- Those looking to accomplish some last-minute holiday shopping this weekend will have to battle cool temperatures.
For Thursday, the National Weather Service is calling for a high of 79 and a low of 57, with a 60 percent chance of thunderstorms in the evening.
A cold front moving from the north is expected to hit the Tampa Bay area late Thursday night, according to Mike Clay, Bay News 9 meteorologist.
"There will be some rain with the front that will bring chilly weather all day Friday and into Saturday before warming up Sunday afternoon," Clay said.
Temperatures on Friday and Saturday are expected to peak in the low to mid-60s. They will drop into the 40s overnight. Patchy fog could accompany the front, Clay added.
As the cooler weather moves in, expect strong north winds with gusts ranging between 20 to 30 mph, according to the National Weather Service's forecast.
Friday is the first official day of winter.
"We'll see a few cold spells come through. It's winter," Clay said of the upcoming weeks. "It's not out of the question there could be a freeze, but we prefer to take it five or seven days at a time."
Weather should warm up in time for Santa's visit from the North Pole.
Temperatures are expected to reach the mid-70s on Christmas Day.
"It will be seasonable, probably a lot of clouds," Clay said.
Those expecting to travel to the Midwest this weekend could also face obstacles from an expected blizzard.
"Chicago, Des Moines, Omaha, Milwaukee, travel will be impossible in Wisconsin -- all those cities will be hit hard for the next 24 hours," Clay said Wednesday evening. "The one it will really affect is Chicago because of travel implications."
Elizabeth Johnson, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. Follow her on Twitter @EJohnsonBHcrime.