Drier conditions in Manatee this week will please farmers, beachgoers

rdymond@bradenton.comJuly 22, 2013 

MANATEE -- Manatee's rain total of 9.85 inches is nearly double the normal amount as of July 21, which is 5.15 inches, according to Rodney Wynn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

The record for July rainfall is 20.15 inches in 1960, according to National Weather Service records.

Wynn said help is on the way for farmers and frustrated beach lovers.

"For the Bradenton area, and for the whole west coast of Florida, this coming week we should be getting back into a standard sea breeze environment with drier conditions," Wynn said Sunday. "We will be back to about a 30 percent chance of thundershowers from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. and that chance should decrease to about 20 percent overnight."

The amount of rainfall Manatee absorbed in July made it hard for farmers to lay black plastic mulch to secure tomato beds, said Bob Spencer of West Coast Tomato in Palmetto.

"We are behind schedule," Spencer said. "We would normally have most of our fall plastic laid by now and we only have 30 percent laid due to the rain. The plastic mulch bed is essential because if you didn't havethe plastic mulch, the beds will wash out."

Manatee County tomato farmers have baby plants ready for fall planting,which begins Aug. 5-7,but the abnormal amount of rain in July played havoc with the planting schedule.

The constant rain so far in July has been the result of a tropical moisture trough squatting over the east coast the entire month, Wynn said. The trough is now breaking up, he said.

"It's starting to lift," Wynn said. "This trough kept tropical moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and theCaribbean trapped overour area. When it wassitting over us, it didn'tallow the sea breeze to set up and it pushedtropical moisture all day long, which is why weeven had rain in the morning."

Spencer said the morning rain in July is "very unusual."

"We normally get afternoon rain, which weare used to," he said."We don't normally have all-day rain. Hopefully it will end soon. We don't like a lot of rain once we plant because we get bacteria."

Temperatures for this week will feature highs in the low 90s and lows in the upper 70s, Wynn said.

The trough of moisture did distance Florida from its drought conditions.

"With the rainfall of the last few months, the whole state of Florida is no longer in a drought," Wynn said.

There have been three named tropical storms so far this year -- Andrea, Barry and Chantal.

"There is nothing being tracked right now, but August and September are our peak hurricane months," Wynn said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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