It finally rained in Florida Monday, but the areas that needed it the most missed out.
Many Florida cities have had little or no rain in over a month, resulting in an expansion of drought conditions across most of the Florida Panhandle and sections of North Florida.
A nearby weak weather system triggered numerous rounds of showers and thunderstorms Monday, but they primarily affected areas farther south.
Radar estimates and numerous ground-truth reports indicate that 3 to 5 inches of rain fell over portions of the Jacksonville metro area Monday, with 5.36“ observed at the Mayport Naval Station gauge. Pockets of heavy rain were also observed across the rest of the peninsula from Gainesville to Orlando Monday afternoon. The National Weather Service in Jacksonville tweeted a lengthy list of preliminary reports at 9:15 pm ET.
Public Information Statement National Weather Service Jacksonville FL 915 PM EDT Mon Oct 7 2019 ...PRELIMINARY RAINFALL REPORTS DURING THE PAST 24 HOURS... Location Amount Time/Date Lat/Lon Mayport Naval Station 5.36 in 0852 PM 10/07 30.38N/81.42W Orange Park 4.27 in 0900 PM 10/07 30.13N/81.76W 0.9 N Jacksonville Beach 3.99 in 0500 PM 10/07 30.29N/81.39W Lake George 3.90 in 0804 PM 10/07 29.40N/81.81W Jacksonville Craig 3.86 in 0853 PM 10/07 30.33N/81.52W Jacksonville 3.67 in 0848 PM 10/07 30.25N/81.69W Jacksonville Nas 3.62 in 0853 PM 10/07 30.22N/81.67W Jacksonville 3.39 in 0846 PM 10/07 30.26N/81.72W Jacksonville Beach 3.33 in 0736 PM 10/07 30.27N/81.46W Jacksonville 3.28 in 0904 PM 10/07 30.36N/81.81W Saint Johns 3.14 in 0855 PM 10/07 30.12N/81.62W Jacksonville 3.02 in 0855 PM 10/07 30.27N/81.65W Gainesville 2.77 in 0846 PM 10/07 29.73N/82.42W Fruit Cove 2.58 in 0827 PM 10/07 30.11N/81.64W Jacksonville 2.53 in 0901 PM 10/07 30.21N/81.60W Eddy Tower 2.49 in 0804 PM 10/07 30.54N/82.34W Jacksonville 2.45 in 0858 PM 10/07 30.28N/81.48W Crescent City 2.37 in 0832 PM 10/07 29.39N/81.47W Gainesville 2.17 in 0855 PM 10/07 29.67N/82.39W Jacksonville 2.15 in 0857 PM 10/07 30.30N/81.87W 3.0 NE Orange Heights 2.01 in 0800 PM 10/07 29.75N/82.10W Gainesville 1.78 in 0853 PM 10/07 29.70N/82.28W Keystone Heights 1.73 in 0856 PM 10/07 29.85N/81.89W Kingsland 1.64 in 0900 PM 10/07 30.77N/81.73W Palm Coast 1.62 in 0847 PM 10/07 29.58N/81.23W Ocala 1.57 in 0846 PM 10/07 29.15N/82.13W Gainesville 1.48 in 0846 PM 10/07 29.81N/82.30W Palm Coast 1.41 in 0846 PM 10/07 29.57N/81.21W Jacksonville 1.34 in 0854 PM 10/07 30.50N/81.57W Yulee 1.32 in 0846 PM 10/07 30.66N/81.58W Jacksonville Intl Airport 1.27 in 0856 PM 10/07 30.50N/81.68W 3.2 NE Espanola 1.25 in 0200 PM 10/07 29.53N/81.27W Gainesville 1.20 in 0846 PM 10/07 29.66N/82.32W Benton 2nnw 1.18 in 0800 PM 10/07 30.51N/82.67W Palatka 1.14 in 0858 PM 10/07 29.64N/81.65W Candler 1.07 in 0900 PM 10/07 29.06N/81.98W Weirsdale 1.06 in 0903 PM 10/07 29.00N/81.92W Bunnell 1.01 in 0856 PM 10/07 29.43N/81.35W Palm Coast 0.98 in 0855 PM 10/07 29.57N/81.17W 1 NNW Saint Augustine 0.89 in 0905 PM 10/07 29.91N/81.32W 2.0 NE New River 0.85 in 0800 PM 10/07 29.98N/82.24W I-95 @ Camden Welcome Center 0.78 in 0850 PM 10/07 30.75N/81.65W Ocala Airport - Jim Taylor F 0.74 in 0858 PM 10/07 29.17N/82.22W Palm Coast 0.73 in 0900 PM 10/07 29.51N/81.25W 2 WSW University of Florida 0.71 in 0905 PM 10/07 29.64N/82.39W Brunswick 0.70 in 0904 PM 10/07 31.28N/81.53W Olustee 0.69 in 0804 PM 10/07 30.25N/82.42W Oke-East 0.69 in 0847 PM 10/07 30.74N/82.13W Alachua 0.61 in 0857 PM 10/07 29.79N/82.51W Sterling 0.60 in 0804 PM 10/07 31.26N/81.61W 1.1 N Woodbine 0.57 in 0800 PM 10/07 30.97N/81.73W Brunswick Glynco 0.56 in 0855 PM 10/07 31.25N/81.47W Trenton 0.47 in 0855 PM 10/07 29.59N/82.83W 2.0 NW Belleview 0.43 in 0500 PM 10/07 29.08N/82.08W Trenton 0.39 in 0905 PM 10/07 29.67N/82.70W 1.4 NW Steven Foster State P 0.39 in 0901 PM 10/07 30.83N/82.36W Jones Island 0.38 in 0801 PM 10/07 30.83N/82.36W 3.6 NW Lake Butler 0.38 in 0700 PM 10/07 30.04N/82.39W 3 WNW Alachua 0.37 in 0905 PM 10/07 29.81N/82.52W High Springs 0.37 in 0900 PM 10/07 29.74N/82.62W Hawthorne 0.37 in 0846 PM 10/07 29.67N/81.95W Waynesville 0.35 in 0857 PM 10/07 31.23N/81.79W Reddick 0.34 in 0855 PM 10/07 29.35N/82.24W 5.7 S High Springs 0.33 in 0800 PM 10/07 29.74N/82.61W 1.6 NE Ichetucknee Spring 0.33 in 0800 PM 10/07 29.98N/82.75W Brunswick 0.32 in 0853 PM 10/07 31.15N/81.38W Fernandina Beach 0.30 in 0855 PM 10/07 30.62N/81.47W 2.3 NW High Springs 0.26 in 0800 PM 10/07 29.85N/82.61W Fort White 0.22 in 0858 PM 10/07 29.88N/82.66W Bell 3n 0.21 in 0800 PM 10/07 29.80N/82.87W Oke-Nw 0.19 in 0810 PM 10/07 30.98N/82.40W Folkston 0.17 in 0846 PM 10/07 30.85N/81.99W 6.2 NE Midway 0.17 in 0800 PM 10/07 30.09N/83.03W Clermont 0.14 in 0845 PM 10/07 29.07N/82.23W 4.9 SW Belmont 0.12 in 0800 PM 10/07 30.44N/82.78W Live Oak 0.11 in 0847 PM 10/07 30.38N/83.08W 3.9 N Houston 0.11 in 0800 PM 10/07 30.31N/82.90W Alapaha Tower 0.09 in 0800 PM 10/07 30.53N/83.04W Fargo 0.09 in 0715 PM 10/07 30.68N/82.56W Blackshear 0.09 in 0855 PM 10/07 31.24N/82.29W US 341 @ SR 38 0.09 in 0850 PM 10/07 31.61N/81.88W 2.1 NE Fargo 0.07 in 0800 PM 10/07 30.71N/82.54W Doctortown 0.02 in 0800 PM 10/07 31.65N/81.83W Waycross 0.01 in 0804 PM 10/07 31.25N/82.40W 3.8 S Folkston 0.01 in 0745 PM 10/07 30.78N/82.02W Observations are collected from a variety of sources with varying equipment and exposures. We thank all volunteer weather observers for their dedication. Not all data listed are considered official.
Penascola and Tallahassee received no measurable rain at their official climate reporting sites during the month of September. Gainesville had a top 10 driest month. Even places over the Florida Peninsula, which had a wet summer, saw a noticeable drop off in rain during the second half of the month. For example, Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and Fort Myers all officially received between 0.90“ and 1” of rain during that same period. Meanwhile, on Florida’s southwest coast, a measly 0.04“ fell in Naples. All of these numbers are a fraction of what these cities typically receive during late September.
Those who are looking for additional rain in South Florida will likely receive their wish this week, but the wetter pattern will not extend to the areas that need it the most. A weak area of low pressure will move across the southern half of the state Tuesday, while at the same time, a cold front will slowly approach from the north. These two weather systems are forecast to produce anywhere from 1/2“ to as much as 2” of rain over central and southern sections of the Peninsula, according to the latest forecast from NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.
The center says a few pockets of flash flooding are not out of the question over the metro areas of South Florida through Tuesday, particularly if heavy showers pass over the same areas frequently.
The Florida Panhandle and Big Bend — which need the rain most of all — are expected to have the least in the coming days. The last few drought monitors have seen a notable worsening of the drought conditions. Much of the I-10 corridor is in a “moderate drought”, and pockets of “severe drought” conditions have cropped up near Lake City and Tallahassee based on NOAA’s most recent update.
Rainfall amounts over the next week are projected to be less than 1/2“ in these areas. There is a distinct possibility that a few places will go another week with no rain at all, which would lead to a worsening and expansion of the ongoing drought.
Even though the dominant heat ridge that has been producing record highs over North Florida is flattening and weakening, the upper air winds are forecast to blow from the west over a long distance. These winds effectively cut off the Florida Panhandle from a consistent moisture feed from the Gulf of Mexico. The main storm track from the mid-latitude westerlies is likely to stay well north of the state, which means there are no signs the drought will break any time soon.
A moderate drought is now affecting much of the Florida Panhandle, and some cities haven’t received a drop of rain in more than four weeks. This comes as Florida’s rainy season ends early and the driest months of the year are still to come.
Rainfall has been below average for the entire state this month, and in some spots, non-existent. As of Thursday, Pensacola and Tallahassee had not received any measurable rain in September. Average rainfall for the month in Pensacola is 5.98 inches, with Tallahassee receiving 4.69 inches on average. A similar situation has developed on the other side of the state in Miami, where there is a September rainfall deficit of 6.62 inches.
Monthly rainfall accumulations as of Sep. 26, compared to normal September values, are provided below.
|CITY||RAIN SO FAR||SEPT. NORMAL|
The departures from normal may look extreme, but it must be noted that average rainfall numbers in September are often skewed by tropical storms or hurricanes.
The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska publishes a weekly Drought Monitor Index to assess how severe the conditions are. In their update Thursday, all of north Florida was considered to be at least “abnormally dry”, and 21% of the state - nearly all areas along and north of I-10 - was classification as being in a “moderate drought”. The NDMC identifies the situation as a “flash drought”, which is used to describe a period of abnormally high temperatures and increased evaporation rates that exacerbated the drought.
Climatology alone would suggest drier days are in Florida’s future, as the rainy season typically ends over the next couple of weeks. However, it seems to have concluded early this year thanks to a quasi-persistent wind pattern that promotes warm temperatures and little rain.
State Climatologist David Zierden says this pattern can be traced back to the beginning of September, when Hurricane Dorian decided to turn north and miss Florida.
“When you get a big, strong, big storm that is that strong, it can kind of pull in dry or air from the north and enhance the ridging,” he says. Zierden is referring to an area of high pressure that causes sinking air and suppresses precipitation. “And then we had Humberto, that didn't come as close, but it still had much the same effect on pulling in a dry and warmer air mass,” he adds.
Recent forecast data also suggests the dry pattern will continue through at least the beginning of October, as yet another ridge of high pressure is set to build across the Southeast. Above average temperatures and dry air accompanied by the high will likely persist, allowing the drought to continue or even become more severe.
It would appear the only change for significant rain in Florida’s near future might be from a tropical weather system, which is not expected in the next five days. However, tropical weather activity is still very possible over the next few weeks, based on historical data that suggests the height of hurricane season continues through mid-October.