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Thursday, Jun 21, 2018
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Flood watches, more rain for Tampa Bay area

TAMPA — Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has closed ahead of schedule today because of the rain.

A message on the zoo’s phone system says it closed because of inclement weather and will reopen Wednesday morning.

The closing was one of a handful of events being driven by several days of rain across the Tampa region.

Hillsborough County’s Little Manatee River is expected to reach flood stage at about 8 p.m. today and crest about 24 hours later, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service in Ruskin.

The river is currently running at 10.2 feet at Wimauma. Flood stage is 11 feet, said Nicole Carlisle, a weather service forecaster.

The weather service has issued flood watches for inland areas where water accumulates. The region has had upwards of 2 inches over the last two days. Another inch or two is expected Wednesday.

“The worst of it has been to the south of the Tampa Bay area,” Carlisle said.

So far this year, the Tampa area is running about 8 inches above normal for rainfall, Carlisle said.

A tropical low-pressure system over the west-central Gulf of Mexico is pumping moisture along a stalled frontal boundary hanging across the northern part of the state, Carlisle said.

That combination has meant large amounts of rain from Tampa south to Fort Myers. Rain will continue Wednesday as the low-pressure system moves east along the frontal boundary, according to forecasters with AccuWeather.

By Thursday, the storm should be out of the state.

In the meantime, Sarasota city officials report their storm water system is handling about six times its normal volume of water.

By comparison, Tampa’s wastewater plant is treating about 109 million gallons of water a day, compared to the 59 million gallons it treats normally, because of the rain, said Anthony Kasper, director of the city’s Wastewater Department.

But even running at that elevated volume, the sewer plant is at about half its maximum capacity, Kasper said.

Elsewhere, city officials say they’ve had no reports of flooding in areas prone to it. County officials say the same.

“We are not presently experiencing any extraordinary flooding events,” county spokesman Willie Puz said.

In Pasco County, pumps have been active on both sides of the county and sand bags were made available Monday during the overnight hours.

Additionally, crews have been sent out to check on flood-prone neighborhoods.

“Because we do have problem areas, we have been kind of forward leaning and staging personnel and equipment in locations we know have retained water before,” Ed Caum, Pasco County government spokesman, said.

A flood warning has been issued for Cypress Creek where it crosses State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel.

Sand bags are available to Pasco residents in New Port Richey at the County Public Works Complex, 7530 State St., and in San Antonio at C- Barn, 3908 Warder Road.

Late Monday and into Tuesday, crews pumped water from the area around 16th Street and Otis Allen Road in Zephyrhills to protect a low-lying home.

Three dirt roads – Powerline and Robert Barnes roads in Dade City and Bailey Hill Road in Zephyrhills – were washed out Monday. Crews fixed them before the day ended, Caum said.

In the Trinity area of west Pasco, a pump is running in the area of Little Road and Mitchell Boulevard, which sustained major flooding during Tropical Storm Debby, to transfer water out of a retention pond that is full, Caum said.

“We’re moving water over into a drainage ditch which can move a little more water away from the area at a higher rate,” he added. “That’s based on us staying ahead of it now with our current situation and percolation.”

Parkway Boulevard in Land O’ Lakes between Cascade Place and Dover Drive is closed due to a culvert and bank collapse in July.

Carlisle said things are looking better for Pasco.

“Today, they haven’t gotten as much as they did yesterday,” she said.

Still, Caum said, people should avoid flooded areas. Water can sweep even heavy cars off the road and there’s also the chance submerged power lines could lead to electrocution, he said.

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Twitter: @kwiatrowskiTBO

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