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Rain is helping, but water levels are still low

It may feel like the rain has been coming down in buckets lately, but weather experts say it really isn't out of the norm.

Last month, 6.63 inches of rain fell in St. Petersburg, about a half-inch above average. Tampa received 7.54 inches, or about 2 inches above normal.

"Being one or two inches above normal in a month is not that unusual in our wet season," said Ernie Jillson, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

July will probably be no different, so keep the umbrella on standby and hold off on the carwash.

This weekend meteorologists predict a 40 to 60 percent chance of rain, and possibly some severe thunderstorms with lightning, hail the size of a penny and winds 58 mph or greater.

Still, no one is predicting an extremely wet month. That honor belongs to July 1945 when 18.97 inches of rain fell.

Even though the rain didn't break any records, it did reduce water demand in the Tampa Bay region. At the beginning of June, demand was averaging about 300-million gallons a day. By June 26, demand was at 215-million gallons, said Dave Bracciano, demand management coordinator for Tampa Bay Water.

Once-a-week lawn watering restrictions also are still in place through Sept. 30 because lake and river levels remain low, said Robin Felix, communications manager for the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

"Our water resources are still suffering due to impacts from 2 1/2 years of drought, and they have a long way to go before they're going to recover," she said. "This is a good time to turn off your sprinkler system and just let Mother Nature do the work."

Rain is helping, but water levels are still low 07/03/08 [Last modified: Saturday, July 5, 2008 12:37am]
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