West Palm Beach, FL - From November through March, an average of 5.29 inches of rain fell District-wide. This total represents less than half of the average amount of rainfall that normally falls on the region during this same time period of the annual dry season.
District-wide, about 0.72 inches of rain fell in March, about 2.05 inches or 74 percent below average for the month. Most watersheds in the District received 30 percent of their average March rainfall or less. For the dry season so far, the Upper Kissimmee basin has been the driest at 8.34 inches or 67 percent below the average 12.5 inches.
Despite the below average rainfall so far this dry season, the South Florida Water Management District's (SFWMD) water managers are working with other state, local and federal partners to ensure adequate water supply for the region's 8.1 million residents through careful water management.
"While last year's heavy rainfall and the smart management of our water resource has helped avert a shortage situation so far this dry season, this Board always encourages its residents and businesses to practice daily conservation year-round," said SFWMD Governing Board Chairman Dan O'Keefe. "Water Conservation Month is a great time to remind everyone of the simple ways they can do their part to make every drop of water count."
Lake Okeechobee, the backup water supply for millions of South Floridians, currently sits at an elevation of about 13.81 feet National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD), still more than 2 feet above the level typically deemed a "water shortage" condition.
April is typically the driest month of the year in South Florida, and the SFWMD Governing Board will once again recognize April as Water Conservation Month at its meeting on April 12.
A La Niña weather cycle suppressed rainfall from November through March. Typical dry season conditions where evaporation rates are higher than rainfall rates are expected to continue until the start of the traditional wet season in late May or June.
As the 2017 wet season ended, the District used excess water to maintain canal levels near the upper end of their higher dry season ranges. With the below average rainfall the past several months, the District has been moving water from regional storage into canals along the Lower East Coast from Palm Beach County to Miami-Dade County to maintain water levels necessary to recharge underground aquifers used for drinking water supply and to hold back saltwater intrusion.