Drought conditions return to parts of South Florida

Risk of wildfires is high

Extreme drought returns in Miami-Dade and mainland Monroe counties
Extreme drought returns in Miami-Dade and mainland Monroe counties

MIAMI – The National Weather Service announced Thursday that abnormally dry conditions have returned to South Florida with areas in southern Miami-Dade and mainland Monroe counties experiencing moderate drought conditions.  

Dry weather has been occurring in South Florida since November 2011 thanks to an area of high pressure that has been keeping things dry.  The cold fronts that have passed through South Florida this winter have been dry with very little rainfall associated with them putting South Florida in a high risk for wildfires. 

Since Nov. 1, Miami is 3.41 inches below normal for rainfall and Fort Lauderdale has a deficit of 5.56 inches. 

On Thursday, Lake Okeechobee was at 13.42 feet which is 1.29 feet below the normal level of 14.71.  Lake Okeechobee serves as South Florida's backup water supply.

The South Florida Water Management District has kept all of South Florida in yearly water restrictions reducing water usage to just 3 days a week.  A water shortage warning also continues meaning that water shortage conditions are expected to continue for the next few months.  

We are also in a La Niña year and typically that means below normal rainfall for South Florida through the dry season which typically runs until early May.  The Climate Prediction Center has continued the La Niña Advisory for the entire U.S. for the rest of the winter of 2012.