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A burst of gratitude greets a bit of rain

After 18 dry days, Monday's shower did little to change drought conditions, but it made one resident dance.

By JENNIFER FARRELL

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 30, 2000


Vietnam taught Rob Farrell to love the rain.

Hard and furious when it came, rain spelled time out from the jungle's oppressive heat and from the constant barrage of shelling.

In Farrell's two years and nine months of war, heavy downpours were the one thing powerful enough to suspend battle, if only for a few minutes.

"We used to shower in it," said Farrell, 51. "It was the only time you got."

And so on Monday, as Farrell, a former Air Force staff sergeant, put up a flag in his front yard and recalled buddies lost in combat, the brief shower that moved through the area seemed a fitting accompaniment.

"It was a great Memorial Day present for me," he said later. "I went right outside and stood in the rain and danced."

Part of a front that moved through Hernando, Citrus and Sumter counties, the 20-minute shower dropped three-tenths of an inch of rain on Farrell's Tampa Street neighborhood southwest of Brooksville, according to his home rain gauge.

National Weather Service radar estimates show that most areas got less than a quarter-inch of accumulation, although the showers and a handful of isolated thunderstorms left as much as 11/2 inches in some areas.

It was Hernando County's first precipitation since May 10, when interior sections of the county saw up to an inch of rain, said Rick Davis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Before that, the last rain was recorded April 15 and 16, when up to a half-inch fell across the county, Davis said.

Monday's shower did little to offset the record drought conditions plaguing the area, and the region remains 8 to 17 inches below normal precipitation, Davis said.

"That still puts us at a tremendous deficit for the year," he said. "Obviously, it helps out for the short term, but we would need many more days of rain to put any decrease in the drought."

As skies cleared Monday afternoon, Davis said scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast to return Wednesday through Saturday.

"Hopefully, we'll get some more rainfall later this week," he said. "For a long-term drought, you need rain over a longer period of time."

Farrell, who has a garden, is keeping his fingers crossed.

"I like walking in it," he said. "There's nothing better than rain."

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