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Despite signs of hope, rain no sure thing

By DAVID BALLINGRUD

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 7, 2000


Watching for rain these days is like watching the stock market.

Should we be optimistic about that sign? Pessimistic about that one?

"The sky is trying to remember how to rain," said forecaster Ron Morales. "We're hopeful but guarded."

First the hopeful signs.

There is an area of "disturbed weather" in the southern Gulf of Mexico, in the Bay of Campeche, and disturbed weather can evolve into a nice, wet tropical depression, sometimes even a tropical storm.

There's also a mass of cooler air moving from North Florida into the middle of the state today, and it might produce thunderstorms.

And, finally, the Bermuda High, an area of high pressure that forms in the Atlantic every year about this time, and then directs moist air over the state, may finally be settling into its proper spot.

So much for optimism.

The chances for development of the disturbed weather in the southern gulf are poor, said Stacy Stewart of the National Hurricane Center. High-altitude winds are likely to shear the top off the system before it can organize, he said, and even if it did become a rainmaker, there's no particular reason to think it would affect Florida.

It will be watched for development as the season's first tropical storm, however.

Stewart held out some hope for the cooler air arriving from North Florida today. "It might give you some showers," he said.

But Morales, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's office in Ruskin, was dubious. "I'd say only 10 to 20 percent chance of rain in the Tampa Bay area (today), but a better chance Thursday," he said.

And the Bermuda High, which creates the wet trade winds sailors and Tampa Bay homeowners have counted on for centuries?

"Hopefully we'll be back in that easterly flow by the weekend," said Morales, who offered not a single stock tip.

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