WHEN THE RAINY SEASON ARRIVES: National Weather Service offices around Florida are asking weather buffs to consider signing up for CoCoRaHS — the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network — to beef up precipitation date around the state. All you need is a rain gauge, which can be purchased from the CoCoRaHS website www.cocorahs.org. You can register at the site as well. (Image credit: NWS-Melbourne)
Despite a few spotty showers that blew in on gusty easterly winds, the dry conditions that characterized February have continued into the first week of March across the Florida peninsula.
South Florida rainfall deficits are already approaching an inch in parts of South Florida, with no rain at all in Naples.
Moderate Drought conditions held in over most of the peninsula this week despite a series of weak cold fronts that meandered toward Lake Okeechobee. The associated showers mostly remained off shore in the Atlantic.
Rainfall deficits in Central Florida are averaging just under an inch for the first week in March, and have already topped 1 inch in some West-Central locations like Sarasota and Clearwater. Rainfall is about a half-inch short of normal in the Keys.
Long-range forecasts by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center indicate a higher chance of normal rainfall around Florida through the end of the month, but that is not being backed up by actual forecasts, at least so far. More dry weather with slightly above normal temperatures seems to be in the picture as we head into the second half of the month.
SOME POTENTIAL GOOD NEWS: The eastern tropical Atlantic has cooled significantly over the past few weeks and sea surface temperatures are now actually cooler than normal off the coast of Africa and heading into the Main Development Regions of the Central Atlantic.
With the first Colorado State University hurricane forecast only a month away — soon to be followed by AccuWeather and other professional assessments — it will be interesting to see what the experts have to say about this year’s potential. Warm water continues to build up off the West Coast of South America, perhaps an indication that a new El Niño could be brewing sooner than anyone expected.
Will all this mean that Atlantic tropical storm activity could be suppressed? Fingers crossed.