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Bad news, Northwest Florida: The forecast calls for more rain and more cold

Northwest Florida Daily News/USA TODAY NETWORK

Bad news, Northwest Florida: The forecast calls for more rain and more cold.

An area of low pressure is expected to develop across the Western Gulf of Mexico Wednesday afternoon and track northeast overnight and into Thursday morning. This will bring a risk of isolated severe thunderstorms to parts of the area Wednesday night.

UPDATE:Large hail, severe storms, tornadoes possible in Florida's western Panhandle Thursday

There is a slight risk of severe storms in Northwest Florida late Wednesday into early Thursday.

Okaloosa County Public Safety Director Patrick Maddox notes that this is a "low confidence" forecast, as much of the threat area could remain offshore depending on the low track. However, the greatest threat is expected to remain east of the Interstate 65 corridor in southern Alabama and across the western Florida Panhandle, where the Storm Prediction Center has indicated a "slight risk" of severe storms.

The threat is expected to start west of the local area about midnight and shift east by daybreak Thursday.

Well bundled against the cold, a cyclist pedals along Beal Parkway in Fort Walton Beach. Temperatures are expected to drop to near freezing overnight and possibly lower farther inland.

And while the storms could pass quickly, colder weather is expected to linger for the rest of this week.

Photos: ICE STORM! Remember the big one of 2014?

Highs will average about 60 degrees through Sunday, while lows will dip to 39 degrees Thursday night and 33 degrees Friday night, according to the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama.

Mist rises from the Gulf of Mexico early Tuesday morning near Okaloosa Island. Temperatures along Northwest Florida dipped below freezing overnight Monday and are expected to do so again Tuesday night.

Okaloosa and Walton counties have so far escaped the worst of this week's wild weather, although many regions have been less fortunate. On Monday, strong winds damaged businesses and facilities in Bay County. And millions of people are without power in Texas because of a winter storm.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the storms and freezing temperatures gripping the nation have contributed to at least 20 deaths. The deaths include three people killed in a North Carolina tornado, a Houston-area family of four who died in a house fire associated with their fireplace, and a number of people killed in traffic crashes related to icy road conditions.

Ice forms on a bush in a Fort Walton Beach yard where sprinklers were left on Monday night. Temperatures along Northwest Florida dipped below freezing overnight Monday and are expected to do so again Tuesday night.