MANATEE -- Myakka City beware. Thunder and lightning are on the way.
The growl of thunder and the occasional spark of lightning will be Manatee County’s constant companions today as summer storm cells over the Gulf of Mexico move through the area.
A cell that moved through downtown Bradenton at about 9:30 a.m. dumping rain on its way is headed to Myakka City and will hit that area hard at 10:30 a.m., said meteorologist Ernie Jillson with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.
Although the rest of today will be fraught with a 60 to 70 percent chance of rain as these scattered cells march in at 10 MPH, the situation will change drastically for the July 4 weekend, Jillson said.
The National Weather Service is forecasting more sunshine than we have seen of late on Saturday and even more on Sunday, Jillson said.
The chances for rain Saturday are 20 to 30 percent and the chances for Sunday drop to 10 to 20 percent.
On Monday, July 4, the chances go back up to 30 percent, but the forecast shows that if there are showers they should be late in the afternoon and not impede the evening’s fireworks.
The cell that hit Bradenton today is part of an unusual weather pattern that lasted several days and saw an unusually high 60 to 70 percent chances of rain each day and morning rain rather than afternoon rain.
“That’s because we have some deep Tropical moisture over the region that doesn’t take as much heating to form,” Jillson said when asked why the rain was coming so early in the day. “Also, we have had a westerly air flow the last few days, so, these early morning rains have developed over warm Gulf waters over night and move to the coast in the morning.”
The other unusual thing about the recent rain is that it is what Jillson calls “variable.” That means it may rain in one area and not rain a mile away.
As an example, the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, where the official rainfall amounts are recorded, only 1.2 inches fell in the entire month of June, including the last few days when it rained a lot in Manatee County as a whole.
The airport’s official status, however, will make this June the second driest month for the Manatee-Sarasota area in recorded history, Jillson said.
The normal amount of rain for June is 7.41 inches, leaving the airport 6.21 inches below normal for the month of June.
The cells moving through the area all day today will also help the soil moisture and reduce the wildfire chances, Jillson said.“There are still dry pockets, but this certainly helps,” Jillson said.