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Warmer, drier than average winter predicted for Florida

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Florida is looking at a warmer and drier than average winter season according to outlooks from NOAA. This follows a trend of higher-than-average temperatures in the last month and a drought persisting on the Panhandle due to low precipitation rates. Hurricane Nicole helped alleviate dry conditions mostly across Central and North Central Florida.

Chris Fuhrmann, a regional climatologist for the Southeast Regional Climate Center, presented the center’s findings as part of a monthly climate summary hosted by jointly by NOAA and the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Data from weather stations in Florida show unseasonably warm temperatures this past month, with most stations reporting two, three, or four degrees above normal temperature for this time of year. In the past two weeks alone, many stations across the state have reported five or six degrees above normal.

Precipitation also remains below-average, except for the areas most impacted by Hurricane Nicole. Nicole is only the third Hurricane on record to make landfall in Florida in the state of November and the first November hurricane to strike Florida in 37 years. Higher-than-average precipitation was observed especially along the I-4 corridor. But the Panhandle, the only part of the state not impacted by Nicole’s rains, has remained in a state of Severe Drought since early November. Severe Drought conditions persist from Escambia County to Levy County.

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The country as a whole is seeing increasing drought and dry conditions. Since October, the country is experiencing the highest percentage of abnormally dry conditions in the U.S. Drought Monitor’s 22-year history, according to Fuhrmann.

These warmer-than-average, drier-than-average trends are expected to continue through February 2023. According to the three-month outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, Florida has a 40-50% chance of above-normal temperatures. There is also a 40-50% chance the state will experience below-average precipitation during this time period.

Before these warm and dry conditions settle in for the season, Fuhrmann said we should see a cool and wet Thanksgiving week in Florida.