View Full Version : Cooler Pacific Ocean Likely To Worsen Florida's Drought

A.T. Hagan
01-29-2009, 12:31 PM

Cooler Pacific Ocean Likely To Worsen Florida's Drought

By NEIL JOHNSON | The Tampa Tribune

Published: January 27, 2009

TAMPA - Cooling water that's been pooling in the Pacific Ocean since the end of December likely means drought conditions in Florida, especially around the Tampa Bay area, will worsen through the spring.

It also may presage a more active hurricane season, but climate experts say they will have to wait to determine any effect on hurricanes this summer.

Enough water a couple of degrees cooler than normal has accumulated in the eastern part of the Pacific to create a La Niņa that the National Center for Climate Prediction and Florida's climate office expect to linger until at least the spring.

A La Niņa tends to make Florida's already dry winter and spring drier than normal. A La Niņa can also create conditions that make it easier for hurricanes and tropical storms to form.

More than half of Florida is in some level of a drought, with coastal counties from Citrus to Manatee plus Hillsborough and most of Polk the driest in the state.

In addition to straining water supplies and lowering lakes and rivers, the lack of rain could mean a more severe wildfire season that peaks in April and May when temperatures rise and plants dry.

"This winter's already been drier than normal. If we have a dry dry season, it will get worse in the spring," said David Zierden, Florida climatologist.

With the start of hurricane season a half-year away, it's too early to predict whether the La Niņa's effects will carry over into the June through November storm season.

A La Niņa was in place during early 2008 but dissipated around April and likely didn't have any effect on the number of storms last year.

"I don't think it had any impact on last hurricane season. We'll have to wait to see if it falls apart like last year," Zierden said.

And predicting a La Niņa's behavior in late spring and early summer is difficult for scientists.

During hurricane season, a La Niņa reduces winds high in the atmosphere blowing from the west that can disrupt developing hurricanes. Without those winds, more and stronger storms can form.

This would be the second winter and spring influenced by a La Niņa. Last year's La Niņa contributed to reduced rainfall and helped drought conditions grow worse.

Reporter Neil Johnson can be reached at (813) 259-7731.

Auburn Boy
01-29-2009, 12:35 PM
More rapid oscillations between El Nino and La Nina don't bode well for stable weather..,

Drought in California enyone?

01-29-2009, 01:35 PM
Drought in California enyone?

Already have one, going on 2 years if we do not have a February or March miracle.

Auburn Boy
01-29-2009, 02:26 PM
Already have one, going on 2 years if we do not have a February or March miracle.

Is that why there's dust coming out of my tap? :rolleyes:

01-29-2009, 03:40 PM
I'm long on the green spraypaint.