By Clint Thompson
Even with much-needed rainfall this week and more expected this weekend, Florida remains in a drought; severe in some cases. The southern portions of the state and along the peninsula will remain drier than normal for the foreseeable future, according to Pam Knox, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension state climatologist, .
“I’ve been watching the drought in Florida because we’ve had issues along the south border in Georgia. I know things have been worse in Florida. I heard David Zierden (state climatologist for the Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies) give a talk about it this week. He thinks it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better,” Knox said. “I have a friend in Miami, and they’ve been setting records for the number of days in the 90s. I don’t see for most of the peninsula of Florida that they’re going to have big relief soon.”
Much of the central part of the state, including Polk County and Hillsborough County, is classified in a severe drought or ‘D2’ status, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, The majority of Florida is in ‘D1’ status or classified in a moderate drought.
“Eventually the rainy season will come, and they’ll get some relief at that point. But in the meantime, it’s going to be pretty hard on producers, especially those who are growing forage or who need fairly moist conditions,” Knox said. “I don’t think there’s going to be short-term relief from the drought in the Florida peninsula.”
In the northern part of Florida, as far west as Escambia County, across the state to Nassau County, conditions are a little better but still classified as abnormally dry, which is also the case for the southern part of Georgia.
“It looks like to me the next couple of weeks are going to be fairly wet, not continuously wet, but I think we’re going to get two or three storms that will go through and bring us some rain,” Knox said. “For those areas, I think there will be some relief. But I think farther south in Florida, the front may not get that far and so they may be stuck in the warm and fairly dry air for at least the next couple of weeks until we switch into more of a summertime pattern.”
The northern parts of Georgia and Alabama remain fairly wet as vegetable producers, especially those in Alabama, try to get their plants in the ground.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Mobile County and Baldwin County remain in moderate-to-severe drought status along the Gulf Coast.