More rain in store for Manatee and Sarasota counties

MANATEE — A National Weather Service official says there’s not a trace of a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean right now.

Perhaps that’s because all the weather action these days seems to be drawn to Tampa Bay.

Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the weather service, says another trough, another surface ridge and another decaying frontal boundary just north of Tampa Bay are expected to lead to one to two inches of rain in Manatee and Sarasota counties today and Wednesday and torrential rainfall north of Tampa Bay.

Pre-frontal instability Monday night produced several showers around the region, producing about .5 inch of rain in the Bradenton area, according to the weather service.

The trough/ridge/boundary conditions were directly over Tampa Bay from June 29 to July 2 and produced 3.97 inches of rain at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and five to six inches elsewhere in Manatee, Davis said.

“The next couple of days will be similar to June 29 to July 2, but not as wet,” Davis said. “What’s happening is that a ridge is producing southwest wind flow off the Gulf of Mexico and generating scattered to numerous showers and thunderstorms. But this boundary is just north of Tampa Bay this time, instead of being right over us.”

Manatee and Sarasota can use the rain. The Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport is still 7.48 inches below normal for the year, despite the recent four-day downpour, Davis said.

The multi-day rainfall left some roads flooded in Manatee near Rye Road Bridge, but a tour of the area Monday revealed dry conditions and open roads.

Local communities that landscape heavily will be tested by the rainy days, said Ryan Heise, operations director at Lakewood Ranch.

“We will have erosion issues,” Heise said. “Fertilizer that washes from the landscape to retention ponds contains nitrogen and phosphorous and, when the sun comes out, watch out for algae blooms.”

Landscapers can’t work when it rains this long and hard, so everything will be left to grow, Heise said.

“The lake-maintenance people can’t use chemicals because it will wash right out,” Heise said. “Suddenly, everyone will be a week behind and the Bahia grass will be a foot-and-a-half tall.”

But there were good tidings, as well.

“The drought index did drop a bit,” Heise said. “I don’t predict that the Southwest Florida Water Management District will lessen the water restrictions, but we will have to wait and see.”

The June 29-July 2 rain was perhaps the most significant rain since Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law Senate Bill 2080, relating to water resources. The bill makes it easier for Florida residents, including those who live in deed-restricted neighborhoods, to plant Florida-friendly landscaping.

As for hurricane season, which started June 1, Davis said, “The perception is that in the last 15 to 20 years we’ve never gone this far into the season without a storm. But on average, storms don’t start developing until mid-July.”