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Tampa Record Low Rainfall*

08/27/2001 - Updated 03:33 PM ET

Tampa's dry August may set a record

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Florida's drought, heading into its fourth year, is on course to produce one of the driest Augusts on record in the Tampa region.

For Monday and Tuesday, National Weather Service forecasters are predicting a 20% to 30% chance of rain in the area, with a higher chance of rain possible later in the week.

However, this past Saturday's light rain showers followed a 14-day stretch with no precipitation, the longest area dry spell in August since the federal government began keeping local weather data back in 1890.

A rainy July raised what now appear to be false hopes the drought might soon end, according to forecasters.

"Everyone thought the drought ended, but it hasn't," said Frank Alsheimer, a weather service meteorologist in Ruskin. "We're way below the average for the month."

August is generally one of Florida's wettest months.

So far this August, though, weather service records show, Tampa has had 2.33 inches of rain, barely more than a third of the region's average for the month: 6.13 inches.

Tampa's driest August on record was in 1938, when just .78 inches of rain fell in the region. The area's second-driest August was in 1952, when the rain gauge showed 2.35 inches.

With local government officials considering stricter water regulations and area residents already limited in lawn watering and car washing, Alsheimer said rainfall during the next few weeks will be critical, as Florida heads into its October to May dry season.

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