Rains may put damper on fireworks

American flags flap in the wind as storm clouds pass above the TNT Fireworks tent on Tuesday.

(Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)
Published: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 8:25 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 8:25 p.m.

Will the rain ever stop?

Yes, maybe Thursday.

Meantime, the current monsoon is prompting people to keep a watchful eye on the sky to determine if tonight's pre-July 4 Fanfares and Fireworks at the University of Florida will go on.

"We'll just take it one hour at a time and see how the day progresses," said Randy Wright of the College of Journalism and Communications, which stages the event. "We have our own meteorologist on staff. We're keeping a close eye on it and we'll play it by ear."

The music is set to start at 7 p.m., with the fireworks set for 9:40 p.m. at Flavet Field on campus off Museum Road. Wright said that if tonight's festivities are rained out, the plan is to try to hold them on Thursday evening, also at Flavet Field.

The frequent rains of late are caused by a stubborn band of moist low pressure that is not moving, said Kate Guillet, meteorological intern with the National Weather Service in Jacksonville.

Some sun may shine today, but the chance of rain today and tonight is 80 percent.

The boundary is draped along the country's Atlantic coast and is expected to finally move out of North Central Florida on Thursday.

"It has not moved very much and we keep having rain and thunderstorms form along it," Guillet said. "It looks like by Thursday we should be getting into more of a typical summer pattern with showers and thunderstorms developing in the afternoon along with the sea breeze."

More than an inch of rain fell at the Gainesville Regional Airport on Monday while more than a half-inch fell as of about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The likelihood of heavy rain may yet put a damper on Fanfares and Fireworks, but it hasn't stopped people from buying pyrotechnics to fire off themselves.

While fewer fireworks tents are set up across Gainesville than in years past, vendors said they have been busy.

Chris Hovey, operations manager for KaBOOM fireworks, said he has tents throughout North Central Florida and as far away as Jacksonville.

The tent with the highest volume is at Butler Plaza on Archer Road, Hovey said, adding he has been at the spot for 10 years.

Hovey said he is fine with the rain — he takes precautions to keep his bottle rockets, mortars, sparklers and firecrackers dry.

In fact, it's a drought that would more likely cut into the business of selling fireworks.

"Everything is going great. It's been a very, very good start, especially since there are not any sort of fire bans or hazards that could eliminate fireworks," Hovey said. "The fireworks shows here like (Fanfare) attracts more customers, especially if they haven't been a repeat customers."

UF doctoral student Paul Deis is one fireworks aficionado who was looking to stock up on some favorites Tuesday afternoon.

Deis said his brother is visiting from California, adding that personal fireworks are banned there.

"My favorites are Roman candles. They are like a fireball that explodes in colors," Deis said. "We want something that goes boom so we can celebrate Independance Day the right way — bombs bursting in air."

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