Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rain coming to South Florida but not enough to ease drought

Eliot Kleinberg in the Palm Beach Post: Some much needed rain is expected for later this week, but not enough to make a dent in the region's drought or dim the threat of more wildfires, meteorologists said. A 20 percent chance of showers is forecast for overnight, rising to 30 percent Monday morning and 40 percent Monday night. Rain chances are in the 20 to 30 percent range through the week.

Rainfall at Palm Beach International Airport is down 15 inches since Oct. 1, around the start of the dry season, and approaching two feet below normal since June 1, around the start of the 2010 wet season, the National Weather Service's Miami office said. In a posting late Thursday, it said March has been mostly bone dry, except for a "very weak" cold front that moved through March 17 with rainfall totals of less than a tenth of an inch.

An "extreme drought" designation for Palm Beach and Broward counties has expanded to northern Miami-Dade and areas west of Lake Okeechobee, according to the posting. Last week, the South Florida Water Management District cut watering from three days a week to two. And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported the north end of the big lake is so low it's closed at least five locks to boat traffic.

On the Keetch-Byram drought index, which measures soil dryness on a 0-800 scale, all of southeast Florida, including Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast was in the "severe" category or at the mid-range or high end of "moderate."…

A firefighter works to snuff out hot spots of the Florida Bugaboo Fire. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized 5 Fire Management Assistance Grants between March 27th and May 10th 2007, to help Florida fight fires in 16 counties. Mark Wolfe/FEMA

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