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National Weather Service: Drought To Continue

Florida Forest Service

With no rain in the foreseeable future in northwest Florida and south Alabama, the word “drought” is being used increasingly through the region. Drought conditions here are said to be “light to moderate.”

Florida receives about 58 inches of rain per year, but you wouldn’t know it from the past few weeks. Many areas – including the Panhandle – have seen little if any rainfall.

“October tends to be our driest month here in the area, but we’ve been under a very persistent [weather] pattern which has been steering weather systems away from our area, resulting in a dry, dry period,” said Dave Eversole, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Mobile.

That area of high pressure is allowing for more sunshine and warmth than usual for this time of the year. And the dry conditions in the soil also contribute to the warmth.

“As it gets drier, vegetation will get not as green, and it will start reflecting a little more sunlight back up into the air, which helps contribute to the warmer temperature that way,” Eversole said. “Since there isn’t as much moisture in the soil that also results in the humidity getting lower than normal.”

But if there’s a silver lining in the almost non-existent cloud, Eversole says the high pressure is also keeping any tropical activity at bay. Also expect warmer than average temperatures through the winter months, thanks in part to a weak La Nina in the Pacific.

“It is extremely dry right now. A few weeks back a few of our areas saw some rainfall here and there, but really widespread – we haven’t seen anything in almost two months,” said Joe Zwierzchowski at the Florida Forestry Service’s Blackwater District, which covers Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa Counties.

Despite an uptick in blazes, the district is actually remaining at average levels of wildfires thanks to a wet winter.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been more than 2,400 wildfires across Florida, burning just over 69,000 acres. Updated figures for the Blackwater district were not available. The request is going out from Forestry for residents to avoid burning yard debris for now.

“We’re just asking them to refrain from burning,” says Zwierzchowski. “If and when any burn bans are put into effect that would be done by each individual county.”

As for just when the dry spell could be broken? Forecaster Dave Eversole says stay tuned.

“We may get a few showers here and there, a couple of days in the upcoming week, but we really don’t see any significant changes in the next seven days,” Eversole said. “It is possible that, ten days out or whereabouts, we could finally get a weather system to come through here that might bring us some rain, but that’s about it.”

FEMA has a list of water conservation tips during a drought. They include not washing cars; adjusting sprinklers to water the lawn and not the sidewalk, running dishwashers and washing machines only when they’re full, and checking for dripping faucets and leaky pipes.