Wet and windy day is forecast

MANATEE — Hurricane season might be over, but tropical-like weather is not gone just yet.

Manatee County could experience strong thunderstorms, damaging winds, coastal flooding and possibly even hail or a tornado today and Thursday as a cold front passes through the area, forecasters said Tuesday.

“The potential for severe weather is there,” said Jennifer Colson, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Ruskin. “People should be paying attention to the latest weather updates.”

Setting the stage for stormy weather was a low-pressure area that formed in the Gulf of Mexico and strengthened as it moved northeastward Tuesday.

The low was forecast to cause sustained onshore winds of up to 25 mph along Anna Maria Island today. Wind gusts could approach 40 mph.

Those winds were expected to push seas to 3 to 5 feet above normal today, possibly causing flooding in low-lying areas during high tide. A coastal flood watch is in effect in Manatee from 10 a.m. today to 10 a.m. Thursday.

Forecasters also said high surf and dangerous rip currents were likely along Manatee beaches during that time.

But the worst weather is expected to begin this afternoon and last through the evening and into Thursday, as a cold front moves in from the west, Colson said. It is expected to be mostly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of rain with lows in the mid 50s.

The front could produce strong to severe thunderstorms with possible hail and isolated tornadoes or waterspouts, she said. However, forecasters expect the strongest storms to be north of Manatee.

The rain and wind will decrease but skies will remain cloudy Thursday as the front stalls over South Florida.

The cloudy skies are expected to linger over Manatee until clearing out on Sunday, Colson said.