Dry conditions spark wildfires

Situation only getting worse

Published On: Jan 31 2012 11:21:05 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 18 2013 03:36:27 PM EST
MIAMI -

Conditions remain dry across South Florida, which isn’t really a huge surprise, given we are in the middle of our dry season.  However, how dry it is, is surprising. 

Since November 2011 to the end of January 2012, Miami has received only 43% of its normal rainfall.  Ft. Lauderdale has received only 21% of its normal during that time frame and areas around Lake Okeechobee like Immokalee have received only 9%. 

On Tuesday, January 31st, Lake Okeechobee was sitting at 13.28 which is -1.38 feet below its normal level of 14.66. 

The dry conditions have already sparked several wildfires across South Florida and more are surely on the way.  The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which measures the dryness of the soil, was between 550 and 600 over most of South Florida to end January.  This puts South Florida in a very high risk for wildfires. 

Moderate drought conditions have been in place across southern Miami-Dade county and mainland Monroe county and have now expanded into the areas around Lake Okeechobee and metropolitan Palm Beach County. 

The forecast calls for an area of high pressure to continue to control our weather pattern which mean more dry days ahead. 

The Climate Prediction Center’s long term precipitation outlook for the months of February through April indicate below normal rainfall.  The CPC also continued the La Niña advisory for the United States for the rest of the winter.  This typically means South Florida should continue to experience below normal rainfall for the rest of the dry season which runs through early May. 

The South Florida Water Management District has kept all of South Florida under yearly water restrictions.