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    Spring debuts with a slosh

    Wet weather is expected to dampen the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

    By Times staff writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published March 22, 2003

    The first day of spring brought a drenching for much of the Tampa Bay area Friday, dumping up to 5 inches of rain.

    More wet weather is possible this weekend, with up to a 30 percent chance for rain today and a 50 percent chance on Sunday, said Frank Alsheimer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin. Skies should clear by Monday.

    "This rain is always good, especially considering the drought from 1999 to 2001," he said.

    Several areas in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties reported 2 inches or less, but many adjoining locations reported as much as 5 inches.

    The heaviest rains were part of a band of weather that moved through the area in the late morning and early afternoon. In Pinellas County, the South Pasadena and Tyrone areas reported about 5 inches of rain.

    The rain was blessing for nurseries, golf courses and several other businesses.

    Steve Davis, owner of Tampa Wholesale Nursery Inc., in Dover, said he won't have to use his water pumps for the next few days.

    And business has been good of late: the cold weather up north has allowed him to make early sales in areas where snow has kept nurseries from growing their crops.

    J.C. Tort, owner of Sun City Tree Farm & Nursery in Sun City, said he too is happy to see the wet beginnings of spring because of previous water shortages.

    His only problem with the rain? "It just keeps us from doing what we need to do," he said.

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