Severe Drought conditions spread through Florida peninsula

Florida’s drought continues to worsen, with Abnormally Dry conditions to outright Severe Drought now affecting nearly the entire state.

In South Florida, all but the extreme southeastern portion of Miami-Dade County and Broward County are at least Abnormally Dry, and Severe Drought has spread to Gulf coastal areas including Fort Myers.

Florida drought
Image credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Parts of North Florida are now also under Severe Drought, according to the latest analysis by the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Ninety-day rainfall has averaged 30 to 40 percent of normal in parts of South Florida, analysts said.

How bad are the actual numbers? West Palm Beach is now almost 3 inches behind on normal rainfall for March, and even that doesn’t really tell the whole story. In the last 12 months, Palm Beach International Airport has had only two with above normal rainfall — December, which came in at 0.09 of an inch over average, and May, which was 0.44 of an inch over average.

On the other hand, last July was an incredible 4.17 inches below normal in precipitation, a problem made all the more devastating since it was also the hottest month ever recorded in West Palm Beach.

Other March rainfall shortages around the state: Key West, 1.05 inches; Marathon, 1.92 inches; Naples, 2.14 inches; Fort Myers, 2.63 inches; Tampa, 1.97 inches; Fort Pierce, 2.31 inches; Vero Beach, 2.36 inches; Orlando, 3.55 inches (just 0.09 of an inch has fallen all month); Daytona Beach, 3.03 inches; Jacksonville, 2.76 inches; and Gainesville, 3.53 inches.

Precipitation chances across the Florida peninsula look a little better over the next week, but it may be barely enough to wash the dust off your car.

A frontal system pushing showers and thunderstorms through the Gulf of Mexico looked robust on Friday, but the system is expected to wash out over South Florida during the weekend.

Another front mid-week — and still another stronger system popping up on forecast model maps toward the end of next week — could start softening the hard edges of the drought, but it will take an early start to the rainy season to get us back on track.

For now, more below normal precipitation is in the longer-term outlook by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, not only for Florida but for the entire tier of southern states, from Texas to the East Coast and north to Virginia.

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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