Florida drought continues to diminish, more rain on the way for East Coast

Designated drought areas continued to shrink in Florida this week after another round of weekend rain on the East Coast.

The U.S. Drought Monitor eliminated areas of Moderate Drought for Palm Beach County, and interior areas of South Florida, from Palm Beach south to Miami-Dade and Mainland Monroe were removed from the Abnormally Dry category.

Northeastern Martin County up to Brevard County remained in Moderate Drought.

Areas west of Lake Okeechobee are no longer designated as Abnormally Dry, and all drought designations were removed from Collier and Lee counties.

“Only a small strip along the coast received significant precipitation, but in the wake of last week’s rain, additional improvements were introduce,” said NOAA’s Richard Tinker. “Subnormal groundwater and stream flows continued in the remaining areas depicted on the Drought Monitor.”

It’s interesting to note that these are the only drought designation in the U.S. east of the Mississippi River.

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WET WEEKEND? Parts of Florida’s East Coast could see a blustery Saturday due to a cold front forecast to stall over Central Florida, according to NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.

The WPC graphical shows the heaviest rain — up to a half-inch — falling in the Vero Beach-Melbourne areas, with lighter amounts falling in southeastern Florida. Winds could gust up to 30 mph on Saturday, forecasters said.

The National Weather Service in Miami, in a “high-end” analysis of rainfall chances, said there is a 10 percent probability that South Florida’s East Coast could see rainfall totals near half an inch.

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Worldwide rising temps

(Image credit: NASA)

TREND IS NOT OUR FRIEND: The past five years collectively were the warmest on record worldwide, NASA and NOAA said in a post on a NASA website Wednesday. The agency announced that independent analyses by both agencies concluded that 2018 was the fourth warmest on since at least 1880, when these types of records began.

“2018 is yet again an extremely warm year on top of a long-term global warming trend,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.

Average global temps have risen 2 degrees (F) in the last 138 years, and Schmidt and NASA says the warming trend is “driven in large part by increased emissions into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases caused by human activities.”

The speed of the warming varies from region to region, with the Arctic showing the most evidence of warming resulting in a steady loss of sea ice.

“In addition, mass loss from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets continued to contribute to sea level rise. Increasing temperatures can also contribute to longer fire seasons and some extreme weather events,” NASA said in the Wednesday release.

“The impacts of long-term global warming are already being felt — in coastal flooding, heat waves, intense precipitation and ecosystem change,” Schmidt said.

The warmest year on record was 2016, partly as a result of a strong El Niño.

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Author: jnelander

Freelance writer and editor

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