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Rainy January does not erase concerns about water shortage

Although parts of the Tampa Bay area saw one of the rainiest Januaries on record, concerns about water shortages are likely to linger through the spring.

Long-term forecasts call for drier-than-normal conditions through the winter and into spring, said Robyn Felix, a spokeswoman for the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which oversees a 16-county area that includes Tampa Bay.

That forecast comes on top of several dry months.

With the exception of January, the area has been extremely dry since September, said Felix, noting that October was the driest on record for parts of the region.

Still, the January showers helped. The agency, known as Swiftmud, decided not to tighten water restrictions at a Jan. 25 meeting partly because of improved conditions. The region has been in a Phase 1 water shortage since Dec. 1, mostly a warning to local governments to be prepared.

With 8.23 inches, Tarpon Springs saw the rainiest January since records began in 1892.

Tampa had the fifth-rainiest January with 6.28 inches at Tampa International Airport. The rainiest January on record was 1948, which saw 8.02 inches.

St. Petersburg saw 3.25 inches at Albert Whitted Airport, though parts of Pinellas County saw substantially more.

"It will help us out to get us through the rest of the dry season," said Mike Clay, a senior meteorologist with Bay News 9.

Clay said January's rainfall totals are even more impressive because this is a La Niña year, which typically produces a dry and mild winter.

Rainy January does not erase concerns about water shortage 02/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 1, 2011 9:05pm]
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