Most of Florida has experienced a rainy August through and including August 24, 2013 (Fig. 1). Parts of the Florida Panhandle have received more than 10 inches of precipitation so far this month, with a few locales topping 16 inches. Rainfall along the west coast and immediate inland locales has been measured in high single digit values, with some places topping 10 inches. The southeast coast northward to the Space Coast has shown the lowest values statewide (basically 3 inches or less).
During the past 90 days, large parts of the state have seen precipitation measuring two feet or more. Some places in interior southwest Florida and the Panhandle have received more than three feet (40 inches) of precipitation. This translates to upwards of one and half times average rainfall. The area near Lake Okeechobee is one of the places with much above average rainfall. The southeast coast and Keys, for the most part, have seen serious precipitation deficits.
The weather pattern (deep tropical moisture throughout the lowest 8 miles of the atmosphere, ground level dew points in the mid to upper 70’s, and a persistent easterly trade wind regime), coupled with large areas of standing water (enhancing further evaporation into the atmosphere) have all contributing to this self-sustaining wet weather pattern. A tropical weather system early in June and a prolonged period in which a stationary front focused precipitation in the Florida Panhandle also contributed to the heavy rainfall totals.
Computer models and human forecasters all suggest that the pattern will persist through much of this week. However, we can start to look for few minor breaks, during which a temporary period of westerly winds may shift the rainfall zone toward the east coast. The Panhandle should experience more drier weather days during the upcoming week.
Still, autumnal cold fronts are not expected and, thankfully, the tropical Atlantic doesn’t seem ready to kick into high gear, just yet. By next week, as we approach the day of peak of hurricane season (September 10), there are hints that a tropical system may affect parts of the U.S. East Coast, but well to the north of Florida.
© 2013 H. Michael Mogil