Following rain to end the weekend in Florida, a spell of dry weather will threaten to worsen drought conditions and exacerbate brush fires plaguing the state.
Rainfall into Sunday night will help to moisten dry vegetation and put a damper on fires and smoke in the area. Isolated showers and thunderstorms could linger on Monday.
Moisture will then lift northward up the East Coast into the middle of the week, opening the door for dry air to filter across the Sunshine State and setting the stage for another prolonged stretch of rain-free conditions.
“Warm and dry conditions will dominate the weather pattern across the state throughout the balance of April,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Lada said.
Afternoon high temperatures will soar into the lower and middle 90s F across the peninsula by Friday. Records will be challenged or broken.
The blazing sunshine will further dry out vegetation, adding fuel to ongoing or new blazes.
“Into early May, the concern is for not only dry and warm weather but windy conditions to develop,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.
Smoke and haze could be whisked hundreds of miles away and lead to poor air quality far from where fires are burning. Those with respiratory illnesses may need to stay indoors.
Blazes that have yet to be contained, such as the 30th Avenue Fire burning in Collier County, could quickly spread and threaten more communities.
Since Jan. 1, more than 1,600 wildfires have burned over 88,000 acres.
The Florida drought has grown exponentially since the beginning of 2017. From Jan. 17 to April 18, severe drought conditions have grown from 0 percent to over 34 percent.
The driest conditions are focused on central and southern portions of the peninsula, including Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers, Naples and West Palm Beach. These cities have received less than 50 percent of their normal rainfall since Jan. 1.
Residents and visitors can do their part to prevent more blazes by avoiding outdoor burning, barbecuing and parking cars over dry brush, as well as properly extinguishing cigarettes and matches.