Drought conditions remained in place this week over much of south-central Florida, despite beneficial rains to close out February.
West Palm Beach picked up 2.51 inches of rain over the final seven days of the month. Some parts of the Treasure Coast also picked up 2.5 inches.
But Moderate Drought continued from northeastern Palm Beach County through Southern Brevard County on the East Coast, and from Naples north to Tampa on the West Coast. Most of the rest of South Florida, including Palm Beach and Broward counties, remained Abnormally Dry, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor analysis released Thursday.
A small slice of Miami-Dade and extreme southeastern Broward counties are not affected.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for the drought conditions to persist at least through the end of March.
Rain chances around South Florida will be in the 20-40 percent range through early next week, but the big story will be wind — gusts out of the northeast and east may reach the mid- to high 30s by Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service in Miami.
Temperatures heated up in the Keys this week, and heat records were broken or tied in other parts of the state as well. Cooler weather is expected through the weekend after a cold front moved down the peninsula late Thursday and Friday morning. It was also the warmest winter on record in Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and the fifth warmest in West Palm Beach — tied with 1950. It was the second-warmest winter in Naples. (Image credit: NWS-Key West)
RECORD WATCH: Key West set a record high on Thursday with 86, busting the previous mark of 85 set in 1991.
Jacksonville set a new record high with 88, beating he old mark of 87 set in 1997. Gainesville’s high of 87 tied the old mark set in 1997.
Daytona Beach broke a record warm low on Wednesday with 66, beating the previous mark of 65 set in 2007.
Fort Myers had its warmest winter (Dec. 1 to Feb. 28) on record with an average temperature of 70.9 degrees, the National Weather Service in Tampa said. The previous record was 70.7 degrees setting during the winter of 1931-1932.