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How long will Florida's drought last?

A very dry spring is leading to a moderate drought around the Tampa Bay area, will it worsen?

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — We need some rain! Unfortunately, the rainy season is still close to two months away!

Drought conditions started to develop in west Central Florida in February but have continued to worsen through March. The latest drought monitor just came in Thursday morning and it shows the entire Tampa Bay area under a moderate drought. The worse conditions are across Southwest Florida where a severe drought has continued to expand.

The concern is that with dry weather continuing this drought will only expand and strengthen. That could cause issues across the state including higher wildfire risks.

Let's break down how this drought could play out over the coming weeks and months. 

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

Next 7 days

All signs point to a continued dry stretch of weather for the rest of March. Not what you want to see with only a couple of weak fronts bringing small rain chances. Nothing in the forecast that will improve drought conditions. Expect those yards to brown out even more.

Below is a rainfall forecast between now and Tuesday, with the highest rain chances across north Florida.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

Next month or two

The Climate Prediction Center has released the precipitation outlook for April. The news is not good or bad, the forecast shows an equal chance for above and below-average rainfall.

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

This could lead to some improvement or at least slow the development of the drought. This might be the time when things are most dry and when the wildfire risk is highest.

Late spring into summer

The good news about Florida droughts is they are normally seasonal and disappear when the rainy season comes. In fact, over the last few years, we have seen some springtime droughts that generally last from February through early May.

The last time we had a severe long-term drought across the area was in 2000 and 2001. While those are rare, they can happen.

The Climate Prediction Center has a long-term three-month outlook for April, May and June that shows equal chances for above and below-normal rainfall.

Some good news is that as we shift from La Nina into El Nino it normally brings cooler and wetter weather across Florida with a subtropical jet overhead. 

Credit: 10 Tampa Bay

Overall the short-term forecast is not great, but some improvements will be possible as we get closer to the rainy season!

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