Tropical storm watch is in effect for parts of Florida's West Coast
Forecasters say the broad area of low pressure will move into the Gulf of Mexico and could produce heavy rain over the greater Tampa Bay region this weekend.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for portions of Florida as a system off the Yucatan peninsula tracks northeast toward the state.
The National Hurricane Center has designated the remnants of what was Hurricane Agatha in the Pacific as Potential Tropical Cyclone One in its 5 p.m. advisory Thursday.
It is forecast to dump heavy rain over a large swath of the state by the weekend.
The tropical storm watch is in effect for the west coast of the Florida south of the middle of Longboat Key, and along the state's east coast south of the Volusia/Brevard County line, including Lake Okeechobee.
As of Thursday afternoon, the system was located about 505 miles southwest of Fort Myers and moving to the north at 5 mph. Maximum sustained winds are 35 mph.
It is forecast to turn to the northeast on Friday, and gain speed Friday night into Saturday.
It should move across the southeastern Gulf of Mexico through Friday night, and across the state south of the I-4 corridor on Saturday.
Justin Ballard, meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network, says while the main impacts will stay south, there is a small risk locally for flash flooding across the greater Tampa Bay region.
"While no major impacts are expected for our area, models do indicate the potential for tropical downpours starting (Friday) and lasting through Saturday," Ballard said. "Before the system moves out by Sunday, a range of 1 to 3 inches of rain are possible, with some locally higher rainfall totals."
Further south, forecasters say the system could produce rainfall totals of 4 to 8 inches across South Florida and the Keys — with maximum isolated totals of 12 inches that could result in flash flooding.
Ballard said there will be a steep drop in rainfall amounts, with the heaviest likely falling along and south of I-4. By Sunday, this system will be out of our area, but a return to daily summertime storm chances are expected.
If does strengthen into a tropical storm, it would be called Alex.
The Tampa Bay region can expect another round of afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms on Thursday, with rain chances picking up Friday and into the weekend ahead of the system's approach.
As of Thursday at 2 p.m., forecasters with the hurricane center stopped issuing advisories for a weak area of low pressure east of the Bahamas that is moving away from the U.S.