Wetter rainy season brings more problems

ENGLEWOOD — The ground is soggy and drainage ponds and ditches are full, but the all-day thunderstorms have been replaced by familiar late afternoon soakers.

At least for now.

“Thursday was a transitional period,” said WINK News meteorologist Scott Zedeker. “We had a tropical wave pass by. It should be (returning to more) normal conditions this weekend.”

That’s the good news.

The bad is that any significant rain is trouble for areas that have seen 10 to 12 inches in less than a week. While roads that were flooded Monday through Wednesday dry out, a couple inches of rain could quickly overwhelm drainage structures and cause problems.

The torrential rains tied to the wave peaked for the residents of Grove City on Tuesday morning, when they got 10 inches within four hours, enough for Charlotte County Emergency Management to step in.

“It was the first time in a decade that has happened,” said Wayne Sallade, director of emergency management. “We were checking on the elderly and we wanted to make sure emergency vehicles had access.”

Sallade said the daily rainstorms haven’t caused problems otherwise.

The heaviest rain activity was recorded in Rotonda at 12 inches since Sunday, according to Zedeker.

“The rainy season started earlier than usual in May,” Zedeker said. “The rain has been above average so far for June, July and the year.”

Zedeker said Port Charlotte had 10.3 inches of rain and North Port had 7.6 inches since Sunday.

While WINK has forecast scattered showers for today and Sunday, there is also plenty of summer sunshine in the forecast as well.

Mosquito measures

The above-average rainfall means increased mosquito activity according to local mosquito control experts.

“We know the areas that are pasture lands tend to explode in population,” said Matt Smith, director of Sarasota County mosquito management. “The highest concentration for floodwater mosquitoes tends to be east of I-75. In certain areas, we’ll starting to see those like gallinippers and on the edges of urban areas.”

Smith said he’s starting to see the usual increases in population. Englewood is average while North Port is below average.

“We tend to be proactive in swamp areas,” he said. “We’re on the lookout for river and deep flood species.

Smith advises some tips to stay clear of mosquitoes is to avoid them during dawn and dusk hours, wear loose and long-sleeved clothing, put on insect repellent and drain standing water.

Johnny Hunter, Charlotte County mosquito pest management supervisor, said West Charlotte County is the most active mosquito breeding grounds.

“It’s hard to contain when you cross the McCall salt flats which parallels (Charlotte County Road) 771,” Hunter said. “Initially in May, we had a ton of phone calls with the first brood, but it has stabilized since. We sprayed over 136,000 acres by air.”

Hunter said Port Charlotte mosquito activity has been average. The Burnt Store corridor from Punta Gorda to the Lee County border and East Charlotte County around the Washington Loop has seen an increase of mosquito activity.

About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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