MANATEE -- After a night of thunderstorms and an uneventful tornado watch Tuesday, Manatee County will brace over the next two days for a much milder version of the winter storm that has struck much of the nation.
Residents and visitors will awaken Wednesday to the unusual phenomenon of the high temperature of the day coming at sunrise, followed by plunging temperatures that will culminate with the coldest day of the season Thursday, said Brian McClure, a Bay News 9 meteorologist.
McClure and Tyler Fleming of the National Weather Service in Ruskin forecast Wednesday temps in the 50s and 60s and Thursday lows in the upper 30s to highs upper 50s.
Friday will start a moderating trend, McClure said.
"The entire eastern seaboard of the United States is experiencing nasty weather with freezing rain on Interstate 95 corridor to snow in the Appalachians," McClure said. "Our cold weather on Wednesday through Thanksgiving is part of that. It all stems from a cold-air mass out of Canada, which has been diving south and east."
The rough weather actually began Tuesday night when Manatee County, along with about a dozen southwest Florida counties, went under a seven-hour tornado watch while strong, mid- to upper-level winds blew in from the west mixing with warm, moist air from the south, McClure said.
There were no reports of tornadoes or wind damage.
The rain accompanying the winds was expected to dissipate by Wednesday morning.
"People will notice a dramatic reduction in humidity Wednesday," McClure said. "It will be very dry and cool and by the afternoon the cloud cover will break and it will be sunny."
Wednesday was forecast to dawn with temperatures topping at 69 but, as the morning advances, McClure said the thermometer will work its way down to the low 60s by the afternoon and low 50s by nightfall.
"The rain will be long gone by Wednesday morning," McClure said.
On Thanksgiving Thursday, Manatee County will wake up to dry conditions and 40-degree temperatures with Lakewood Ranch and Duette in the eastern part of the county recording 38 or 39 degrees, McClure said.
"It won't warm up much, but there won't be any freeze for Manatee on Thanksgiving," McClure said. "I'm predicting a high of 58 for Thanksgiving, but it will be sunny from the early afternoon on."
Fleming is predicting even colder weather for Thanksgiving in Manatee, however.
"I'm forecasting low to mid 30s for Thursday with northeast Manatee at 34 degrees at sunrise," Fleming said. "I think it will warm to the lower 60s by the end of the day."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or via Twitter @ RichardDymond.