Tropical depression soaks South Fla.


MIAMI -- The first tropical depression of the year soaked South Florida's Memorial Day, canceling services for war veterans and sending sun worshipers to shelter and Marlins' fans home.

The deluge, declared by forecasters one day before today's official start of the hurricane season, has, since Friday, dumped up to 10 inches of rain in some areas.

The weather system promises another drenching today.

The depression originated west of Cuba, bringing heavy rain and winds of up to 35 mph. Jamaica, Haiti and the Bahamas also were hit by the downpour.

The system is not expected to strengthen, said Jim Lushine, National Weather Service forecaster in Coral Gables, Fla.

With the rain came slick roads and a number of fender-benders JTC in South Florida -- a typical rainy day, said Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Mary Jackson.

The showers forced the Florida Marlins to call off their game at Joe Robbie Stadium. The Monday game against the San Francisco Giants was rescheduled today as part of a double-header.

The rain also canceled war veterans' observances. But it could not dampen Bolivian tourist Fernando Velasco's week-long vacation in Miami. "The weather may be bad, but the temperature is good," Mr. Velasco said. "It's winter in Bolivia now."

Mr. Velasco was one of just a handful of people walking on Miami Beach about noon yesterday, Memorial Day, usually one of the year's most crowded beach days.

"Everybody is here. They are just not coming out," said Patrick Maher, a lifeguard with the Miami Beach Patrol. Since 6:30 a.m. yesterday, Mr. Maher and James diDonato, also a lifeguard, have seen only five people willing to brave the strong winds and waves.

Vacationers Denise Doar and Lorrie Barnwell, both of Atlanta, had planned to get tanned over the long weekend. "We thought, 'what a great place to go and enjoy the sun,' " Ms. Barnwell said, pausing. "Not!"

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