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Weather forecast | Morning of Monday, June 15

May's rain didn't end the drought

May showers may have brought June flowers, but by now they could be wilting.

Tampa Bay has seen less than an inch of rain this month — 0.89 inches — compared to the 1.45-inch average for June. That's after the May deluge of 9.12 inches, about three times the norm.

The lack of rain means it is unlikely that water restrictions imposed two months ago will be eased any time soon.

"We just need to keep the water regulations enforced," said Sallie Parks, the board's treasurer. "I'll be surprised if the sentiment of the board is different than that.''

The Southwest Florida Water Management District board passed the tougher conservation measures April 3. Lawn watering is allowed once a week from midnight to 4 a.m. Noncommercial car-washing and pressure washing are not permitted.

Officials imposed the rules for Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties amid concerns that Tampa Bay Water was struggling to meet demand. The restrictions expire June 30, and the water district's board is revisiting the restrictions June 23.

Despite May's rains, the region has not recovered from the three-year drought, said Robyn Felix, a spokeswoman for the agency commonly known as Swiftmud. The agency's staff has not finished its recommendations about the water restrictions.

"May didn't erase the drought," Felix said. "It was helpful … but we're still in a drought."

So what has stalled the usual summer rains? An area of high pressure that has kept the storms away from Tampa Bay, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez. This week, the chance of rain is only 20 to 30 percent, Marquez said Monday.

Some counties north of Tampa Bay and inland have had rain recently, but the normal "drive home" rain has been absent, Marquez said.

Storms have been more isolated, not blanketing the region as usual this time of year. But if typical moisture levels return, she said, afternoon thunderstorms might start popping up next week.

May's rain didn't end the drought 06/15/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 15, 2009 9:48pm]

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