Dry pattern to worsen drought, brush fires across Florida into May
Following significant rainfall in part of Florida on Sunday, a spell of dry weather will lead to building drought conditions and exacerbate brush fires plaguing the state.
Fort Myers set a new daily rainfall record for Sunday when 2.10 inches of rain fell. West Palm Beach received 3.50 inches of rain, which is close to the normal rainfall for all of April of 3.66 inches.
The rain helped to moisten dry vegetation and put a damper on fires and smoke in the area, including the 30th Avenue Fire burning in Collier County which is now 50 percent contained.
"While the rain put a temporary dent in the drought, the fire danger will increase once again prior to the summer's rainy season as the upcoming prolonged dry spell will gradually dry out the region's vegetation," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.
Moisture will lift northward up the East Coast into the middle of the week, opening the door for dry air to filter across the Sunshine State and set the stage for another prolonged stretch of rain-free conditions.
“Warm and dry conditions will dominate the weather pattern across the state throughout the balance of April,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said.
Afternoon high temperatures will soar into the lower and middle 90s F across the peninsula by Friday. Records will be challenged or broken.
The blazing sunshine will further dry out vegetation, adding fuel to ongoing or new blazes.
“Into early May, the concern is for not only dry and warm weather but windy conditions to develop,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.
Smoke and haze could be whisked hundreds of miles away and lead to poor air quality far from where fires are burning. Those with respiratory illnesses may need to stay indoors.
Smoke fills the sky as a wildfire rages in Collier County, Florida, on April 21, 2017. (Photo/Efrain Hernandez/Collier County Sheriff)
Blazes that have yet to be contained could quickly spread and threaten more communities.
Since Jan. 1, more than 1,600 wildfires have burned over 88,000 acres.
The Florida drought has grown exponentially since the beginning of 2017. From Jan. 17 to April 18, severe drought conditions have grown from zero percent to over 34 percent.
The driest conditions have focused on central and southern portions of the peninsula, including Tampa, Orlando and Naples. These cities received less than 50 percent of their normal rainfall so far this year.
Residents and visitors can do their part to prevent more blazes by avoiding outdoor burning, barbecuing and parking cars over dry brush, as well as properly extinguishing cigarettes and matches.Report a Typo
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