HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. - It’s a good thing Jerrod Vaughn's truck has four-wheel drive. Lake Park in Northwest Hillsborough County is living up to its name.
"It doesn't take much for it to flood now. An afternoon shower and we have to shut the back of the park down," he said.
Speed bumps have disappeared. Docks are underwater. Five lakes here are now one big one and Vaughn's boots have been muddy for months.
"We've had some financial difficulties with the Parks Department as it is, budget cutbacks, those kinds of things, so we've implemented the $2 entry fee," said Vaughn.
He says not many people are paying that fee to play here. The rain means we saw more critters like deer than people at Lake Park.
"We saw two or three pygmy rattlesnakes in the last couple of weeks," said Vaughn.
It’s not just Northwest Hillsborough County that is waterlogged. Tropical Storm Debbie dumped as much as 15 inches on parts of Tampa Bay.
This has been a record-breaking season for rainfall. In fact, the last time we had a rainier summer, Harry Truman was President and a gallon of gas cost 15 cents.
"The Tampa Airport is about a little over 43 inches for the year, and that is about 11-and-a-half inches above normal," said National Weather Service Meteorologist Daniel Noah.
Noah says the water is good for our aquifer and is due in part to a weather pattern called the North Atlantic Oscillation.
"Everywhere in the greens and blues are above normal precipitation," Noah pointed out.
If that rains keeps coming, and its supposed to all week, Vaughn says park rangers will be busy trying to keep the roads graded and dry. But he admits the wet weather beats a drought.
"Five months ago, we were talking about the lack of rain,” said Vaughn. “Now we're talking about well, there's too much water.”
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