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Spring drought expected for Tampa Bay

A warmer and drier than normal Florida spring is forecast and could increase fire risk.
Credit: Getty Images

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla — It is dry season in Florida, so significantly less rain is expected this time of the year. But too little rain can send Tampa Bay, and all of Florida, from just dry to a drought. 

Part of Tampa Bay is currently abnormally dry, but most of our region through late February has received near-normal rainfall so far this year. 

But that is forecast to change. NOAA says drought conditions are expected to develop. 

The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting warmer and drier than normal weather with a drought likely to develop during the next three months across Tampa Bay and much of the southern two-thirds of Florida.

La Niña conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are a big part of our expected drought. A La Niña occurs when cooler than normal water temperatures develop in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This can change weather patterns for much of the world. 

A La Niña typically brings warmer and drier than average weather for Florida.

When the waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean become warmer than usual, an El Niño develops. This can bring increased rainfall and storminess to Florida.

With La Niña expected to dominate through much of the rest of the dry season (Feb.-April), overall below normal rainfall is expected across the area through this time frame.

Credit: NOAA

Droughts in Florida can cause serious problems for crops, lawns and gardens. During strong droughts, water salinity can get high and river and lake levels get low.

Severe droughts increase the wildfire risk in the late spring, once sea breeze thunderstorms start to develop. Of course, accidental wildfires can occur as well.

Long stretches of dry days could bother those with allergies as allergens and pollutants tend to hang in the air. Rainy days wash these irritants out of the air, bringing relief.

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