Recent rains leaves us ready for Spring

Published On: Mar 18 2014 11:29:56 PM EDT

Usually by late March we begin to worry about dry conditions

Jacksonville, Fla -

Grab the sunglasses and enjoy the sunshine later today!  It will be a slow process, but clouds will fade and sun will beam down upon us once again!  

Yet, adding it all up, we haven't been this wet so late in March since the el Nino winter of 1997-98.  El Nino's tend to be very wet patterns for Jacksonville as the winter-time storm track splits with a southern branch right over Jacksonville. That drives heavy rains (and severe weather) right across the Gulf Coast into Florida. 

This winter has been similar, yet different.  No split in the jet stream instead, the polar vortex, has been so far south that we have been getting super soaking rains here and icy/snowy conditions just north of Jacksonville. 

With Spring officially arriving tomorrow, Thursday, I always start reviewing the possibility of a bad fire season.  Why?  Because Spring tends to be our fire season, the storm track moves north, we dry out, the days get longer and hotter and before you know it we haven't seen rain in weeks!   This combination leads to high evaporation rates.  Just how dramatic can it be?

The winter of 1997-98 was 10" wetter than this winter, yet we had one of our most serious fire seasons ever!  What happened?  Two things, the rains stopped and we had a March freeze.  The freeze killed a lot of underbrush which became a source of fuel.  After less than an inch of rain over 60 days and a blazing June sun, parts of the state literally went up in flames.

So, just like 1997-98 we will start off Spring on a wet note, let's hope the rains settle into a more typical pattern and don't quit...

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