(Credit: NOAA/ WPC)
Palm Beach on Florida’s East Coast — and over to Fort Myers on the West Coast — could be in for almost 2 inches of rain over the next several days before the season’s strongest cold front finally clears the peninsula.
NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center also predicts a swath of heavier rainfall through the center of the state north of Okeechobee. This rain will be beneficial since almost all reporting stations around Florida, from the Keys to the panhandle, are looking at growing precipitation deficits since the end of November.
The rain should start Thursday in the north and continue into Friday and Saturday in South Florida, the National Weather Service said.
As is often the case with winter cold fronts, forecast highs and lows have been trending down across the state. Even South Florida may not get out of the mid-60s on Sunday and Monday, according to the National Weather Service.
The adjacent forecast map from the National Weather Service in Tampa shows the progress of the front as of Thursday morning, with cold temperatures already edging into northern counties.
Once the front does clear, rain chances across the peninsula fall to near zero, which brings us to the subject of potential winter drought — not only in Florida but the southern tier of states. The U.S. Drought Monitor published its updated drought status on Thursday, with drought or Abnormally Dry conditions in the Florida panhandle and spreading down to the Nature Coast north of Tampa.
Incredibly — despite Hurricane Harvey pounding East Texas with almost 60 inches of rain at the end of August — many of the affected areas are now Abnormally Dry or already entering drought conditions.
“In Texas, areas of drought expanded across the eastern portion of the state as the warm and dry pattern continued,” the Drought Monitor noted in its Thursday analysis. “According to NOAA’s NCEI [National Centers for Environmental Information], Texas experienced its 12th driest and 6th warmest October-November period on record.”
Much of Eastern Texas is either Abnormally Dry or already in drought conditions. (Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor)