Drought conditions slowly improving

Local News

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The last few months have been very up and down in regards to rainfall across the Florida Panhandle, with September 2019 on record as one of the driest months ever.

Rainfall totals during September only topped a couple of hundredths of an inch from here to Tallahassee. Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport recorded 0.01 inches and Apalachicola recorded 0.02 inches, while Tallahassee didn’t see anything.

The lack of rain in September caused a “flash drought” to develop across most of the Southeast U.S. and Florida Panhandle, which brought on severe drought across the region very quickly.

Within just a few weeks, folks in Northern Walton, Holmes, and Jackson Counties went from moderately dry conditions to full-blown severe and extreme drought conditions due to the lack of rainfall.

Once October hit we saw a few cold fronts and more moisture make their way into the area, bringing much-needed rainfall, but still not enough to bring us out of the drought.

Most places across the Panhandle picked up more than 4 inches of rain during October, which helped considerably with the dry conditions. Apalachicola picked up 4.39 inches, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport received 4.38 inches, and Tallahassee saw 4.35 inches.

U.S. Drought Monitor for the week of November 14th thru 20th shows most of the Florida Panhandle dealing with abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. (National Drought Mitigation Center)

A few spots like Chipley and DeFuniak Springs picked up a little over 5 inches of rain in October, but November has proved to be slightly drier across the board with most places barely topping 1 inch

So far this month, Apalachicola measured 1.08″, Northwest Florida Beaches International picked up 0.95″ and Tallahassee received 0.78″. This is still about an inch below average for November, and by this time last year most locations in the Panhandle picked up just over 4 inches of rain.

The rest of the month is not looking promising in terms of rainfall unless we get a fairly strong cold front or some sort of tropical moisture to come through the Gulf.

Computer guidance models are keeping rain totals around 1 to 2 inches across our Western Panhandle counties and substantially less the closer you get to the Big Bend through November 29.

The three-month precipitation outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) suggests a near-normal period from November 2019 to January 2020. Average rainfall for these months totals roughly 10 inches, however, we will be below average for November.

Three month outlook for precipitation probability. (NOAA)

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