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New rain pelts soaked bay area

Weather officials are watching an area of low pressure, but they don't expect a hurricane.

Published September 3, 2003

Soggy west central Florida, already dealing with flooding, is about to get another drenching.

Forecasters expect up to 5 inches across Tampa Bay the next two days and have issued a flood warning until Thursday morning.

The problem is a huge area of low pressure, moving north through the Yucatan Channel and heading this way. The system was disorganized late Tuesday, but forecasters are watching closely.

"As it gets into the southeast gulf, a little swirl could form in there, and it could go very fast to the northeast," said Martin Nelson, lead forecaster at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

He doubts the system could become a hurricane.

"The best thing that could happen is we'll see a little bit of rain in the areas that need rain, and not much wind," he said.

Forecasters may send a reconnaissance plane into the area today if the system gains strength.

A flood watch has been issued for Pinellas, Hillsborough, Citrus, Hernando and Pasco counties. Forecasters predict 3 to 5 inches of rain, with a chance of heavier showers in isolated spots.

Thunderstorms carry the threat of more trouble in neighborhoods already soaked by a year of above-average rainfall. Flooding has occurred along the Alafia River in Hillsborough County, the Withlacoochee River in Citrus and Hernando counties, and in several areas of Manatee County.

Anyone living in flood-prone areas should watch for flooding in the next 24 hours, forecasters said.

[Last modified September 3, 2003, 01:32:04]

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