The 2009 rainy season comes to an end this weekend, at least on paper.
November 1 is the official start of the dry season, a six-month period that typically produces little rain and clear, sunny skies. It’s also the wildfire and drought season. Instead of hurricanes and torrential downpours that are common during summer, winter is typically mild and dry.
This year could be different, though, wetter and cooler than most years. Credit that to an El Nino system that’s influencing weather across the state.
Forecasters at the National Weather Services are calling for more rain than usual over the next six months. Average daily highs should be a little lower, too.
“El Nino tends to shift the storm track (that hovers of the southeastern United States) further south,” said Rob Molleda, a meteorologist who works in the National Weather Service’s Miami office. “And it pushes the jet track further south. That allows cold fronts to have more of an impact on south Florida.”
The National Weather Service issued its 2009-2010 winter-spring forecast on Thursday.
“It will still be mostly sunny with the mild days that we’re used to,” Molleda said. “But we think there will be more moisture and stronger colder fronts than we normally get.”
The threat of wildfires in Lee and Collier is very low at this time as both counties are on the lower end of the drought index. Out of a possible 750 points on the index scale, Lee is currently at 367 while Collier measures 389, according to the Florida Division of Forestry. Indian River county currently is the driest county in the state, sitting at 619.
Clarence Tears is the director of the South Florida Water Management District’s Big Cypress Basin, which covers most of Collier.
Tears said this summer was odd in that the region received just two inches less than a normal year even though we didn’t experience a large tropical storm or hurricane — systems which can dump a foot or more of rain in a matter of days.
As of Monday, Collier had tallied 43 inches of precipitation.
“If you look at the numbers, we’re about average,” Tears said. “But we didn’t get a big tropical event, so we didn’t have to release any water to tide.”
Unlike most of Lee County, Collier has ditches and dikes that control water levels. If a large storm is approaching or the county is flooded, the Water Management District and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can open flood gates and send rain water to the Gulf of Mexico.
Reach Chad Gillis at firstname.lastname@example.org.