Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Tuesday as wildfires continued to blaze across the state.
He said that the “ongoing danger of wildfires threatens the State of Florida with a major disaster” due to major fires affecting more than 20,000 acres in 107 areas.
Twelve homes were destroyed in southern Polk County, ABC News reported. In South Florida, fires were reported in Glades, Broward and Collier counties, and the National Weather Service in Miami issued a dense smoke advisory for most of Collier County east of Naples.
“Much of Central and South Florida are approaching drought-like conditions and the chances for wildfires are continuing to increase with hotter temperatures and low rainfall,” Scott said in a statement on the governor’s website.
“This may only get worse as we enter the hotter summer months and it is crucial that we take every action right now to be prepared. It is incredibly important that wildfire response is swift and deliberate and this state of emergency will make it easier for our state, regional and local agencies to quickly work together to protect our families, visitors and communities.”
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam declared it the worst wildfire season in the state since 2011.
There’s not much optimism among weather forecasters for a quick solution to the wildfire problem. Rain chances top out at around 30 percent Wednesday as “a notable moisture surge is forecast to move across the area early Wednesday into Thursday,” according to the NWS Miami office.
But precipitation chances fall back into the 20 percent range for the rest of the week under mostly sunny skies and continued warm temperatures.
Normal precipitation is in the longer-term outlook for South Florida, through April 24.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is calling for below normal rainfall in North Florida from April 22 to May 5, but forecasters hedged their bets for Central and South Florida, saying there are equal chances for above, below, or normal rainfall amounts.
The U.S. Drought Monitor will have a fresh analysis of conditions across the state on Thursday.