Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rain Washes Away Record A Real Dousing, but Area Wasn't the Wettest

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rain Washes Away Record A Real Dousing, but Area Wasn't the Wettest

Article excerpt

The Jacksonville area was sopped with rain last month like never

before -- literally.

The city got 9.77 inches of rain, a real dousing compared with

the December average of 2.72 inches, according to the National

Weather Service. The previous record of 7.76 inches was set in

1885.

While the effects of the heavy rain haven't been all that

devastating -- housing construction and dairy farming took only

momentary notice -- at least the meteorologists were abuzz.

"This sets the all-time record," Tim Barry, weather service

meteorologist in Jacksonville, said yesterday. "I like when we

set records that are over 100 years old."

As Jacksonville's official December count washed away the old

record, some surrounding areas were even wetter: Guana River

State Park got 12 inches and St. Augustine had 11.78.

Was it all a result of last year's much-discussed El Nino, the

weather system originating in the Pacific Ocean that's supposed

to make the nation's winter much wetter this year?

"That's what many people are probably thinking," Barry said.

"At the very beginning, before this winter even started, we knew

we would have above-normal rainfall with below-normal

temperatures. Typically during El Nino years, that's the trend

for the Southeastern United States.

"But does one week's weather have anything to do with that? I

don't think anyone will ever know," he said.

The month's heaviest rains fell on Jacksonville, North and

Central Florida and Southeast Georgia from Dec. 9 through 15,

weather records show.

The weather service attributed the rainfall not to El Nino, but

simply to a cold front out of Canada that bumped up against a

warm air mass in the Southeast and stayed put.

The meshing of the two weather systems isn't unusual, but

normally the cold fronts move on quickly. This one, however,

stayed put and kept a group of rainy low pressure systems in

place.

On two days in Jacksonville, the daily rainfall surpassed the

monthly average. …

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