Above-average temperatures, low humidity and widespread drought conditions over the Florida Peninsula have increased the threat of brush fires.
“The dry season in Florida runs from now through April,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. “Rainfall ramps up as the thunderstorm season gets underway during May,” he said.
For example, while Orlando usually receives only 1.34 inches of rain during the month of February (compared to June’s 7.58 inches), as of Feb. 17 the city has only received 0.37 inches.
To the southwest, Fort Myers has only received 0.07 of an inch - just 7 percent of its normal precipitation for the month.
Combined with temperatures averaging almost 5 degrees Fahrenheit above what is usual for this time of year, the Florida Peninsula is primed to experience some exceptionally dry weather.
“Much of Florida has experienced above-average temperatures and extra lean rainfall this winter, adding to the dry conditions that could result in an above-average brush fire season for the state,” Kottlowski said.
While not record-breaking, above-average temperatures are expected to continue to plague the region over the coming days.
Some relief may come in the form of cloud cover and increased dew points.
“A system moving eastward from the Gulf will bring some showers and thunderstorms over the weekend,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
However, rainfall will be hard to come by as the forecast for this weekend includes only spotty showers, if any at all.
“The bulk of the rain may focus over northern Florida and not reach the areas that are the driest,” Sosnowski said.
Some areas already experienced the dangerous side effect to this dry and warm weather when bush fires were sparked in Frostproof Florida.
In Frostproof, the flames prompted evacuations on Wednesday.
Fires were contained near the community of Indian Lake Estates on Thursday, but several mobile homes, single-family homes and outhouses were destroyed.
According to the local fire department, the wildfire engulfed approximately 4,000 acres of land as of 10:15 p.m. EST Thursday.
Around 5:40 a.m. EST on Friday, local emergency management reported that car accidents had occurred in Indian Lake Estates due to the low visibility. The 50- to 100-foot visibility was attributed to the fog and thick smoke.
Residents of central and South Florida should use caution when using outdoor power equipment and open flames over the coming days. Bonfires, barbecues and disposed cigarettes should be carefully extinguished.
While some showers and storms are in the forecast for Saturday afternoon, many areas south of Orlando will be missed by any storms.
A small chance of showers and storms exists on Sunday as well. However, the next chance for a soaking rain will evade the region until the middle of next week.