Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.
• It has been a hot, humid, sweaty, summer and a trying few days as Hurricane Michael lashed North Florida. But now the weather will bring a welcome respite, according to the National Weather Service. A cold front will bring slightly drier air. Goodbye heat, humidity and sweltering 90-degree temperatures. The highs will be in the 80s over a sunny, dry weekend. Temperatures will even drop to the mid to upper 60s on Saturday morning. Enjoy fall while it lasts.
• As you head out for your morning commute, check out our live blog for the latest traffic updates and road conditions across Tampa Bay.
• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including Kid Rock, Oktoberfest and global superstar Romeo Santos. Our pop music critic Jay Cridlin checked out the Mary Chapin Carpenter show last night in Clearwater. Read about what happened on our Soundcheck music blog
• If you can’t make it to Munich you can find plenty of beer-and-preztel-laden celebrations of Oktoberfest in the area this weekend. But first know that German ex-patriots are judging you But don’t let that stop you from checking out more than a dozen ways to celebrate Oktoberfest in the area this weekend.
• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.
• As the sun rose, as Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey got his first look at the total devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael, he repeated the stunned refrain of many residents along the sleepy Florida coast: We didn’t know it would be this bad. Read the first report from ground zero of Hurricane Michael from Zachary T. Sampson and see the photos of the aftermath from Douglas R. Clifford.
• The day after Hurricane Michael ripped through the Florida Panhandle, it was time to assess the damage. The monster Category 4 storm was blamed for the deaths of four people in Florida and two more in other states. Across North Florida, power was out, homes and businesses lay damaged and destroyed, cars and boats were flung everywhere, and Floridians started picking up the pieces. Insured losses could range from $2 billion to $4.5 billion.
• Hurricane Michael was a historic storm, and it is one that scientists will be studying for a long time. That’s because the monster Category 4 storm somehow shook off the wind shear that usually reduces the strength of tropical storms. McKenna Oxenden explains at what surprised hurricane expert Phil Klotzbach about Michael’s ability to shrug off wind shear.
• For the latest education coverage, make sure to check The Gradebook.
• For the latest business news, check out the Times
• In a campaign advertisement U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis released this week touting his work fighting opioids in Pasco County, the six-term congressman takes credit for a law he did not have a hand in crafting. Tracey McManus explains the history and claims behind this campaign ad in one of the most closely watched Congressional races in the country.
• There was more wrong at Clearwater Parks and Recreation than losing track of funds. Two employees were fried and several administrators reprimanded after a city investigation revealed little oversight of money in a department afflicted by a toxic "good ole boys club" that bullied and harassed women. Tracey McManus explains what the city found and the fallout from its investrigation.
• Sad news from ZooTampa at Lowry Park. A rare endangered giraffe-like okapi calf has died. Even sadder: the mom is now too old to have another in this line of endangered species.
• The Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County is demanding to know why the James B. Sanderlin Neighborhood Family Center fired the director of its reading program, Donna Welch, the wife of Pinellas County Commission chair Ken Welch. Mark Puente reports why the juvenile welfare board is getting frustrated.
• You don’t expect the phrase "killer on the loose" in the national news to be followed by "in Tampa." But that’s what happened, for 51 long days, when a man with a gun stalked ordinary people in the heart of a city. Those days could have changed the place for good. A year ago, there was real fear in Tampa’s Seminole Heights. But, columnist Sue Carlton writes, the slayings showed what Seminole Heights is made of.
• After nearly 40 years as the USF Sun Dome, the arena underwent its first-ever name change this summer, to the Yuengling Center. This came a year after the University of South Florida signed the building’s management over to a group owned by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, enabling it to coordinate and share resources with Amalie Arena. The building’s unofficial rebirth with all these pieces in place began this month with a handful of concerts, family and basketball events. After years of struggle, can the new Yuengling Center find a soul? Read more from Jay Cridlin.
With a new logo and, soon, a new president and consolidated campuses, USF is at a transitional point in its history.
• This is supposed to be the fun stuff for the Lightning — kicking ice and taking names, sports columnist Tom Jones writes. Running teams out of the building and scoring goals by the bushel. And wins. Lots and lots of early wins. But two games in and already we’re asking two disturbing questions that no one should be asking about this team after a mere two games — including after a third-period collapse in a 4-1 loss to Vancouver. Jones warns that it’s not time to panic.
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Check out the latest episode of the Tampa Bay Times podcast Sports Day Tampa Bay led by veteran sportswriter Rick Stroud.