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April 2017 Newsletter   

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Dear Florida Climate Center friends,
We'd like to present you with the April 2017 edition of our newsletter. In this newsletter, you'll find our March 2017 monthly climate summary, a brief about the ongoing drought and wildfire season in Florida, and more. If you have any questions, please send us an e-mail message at climate@coaps.fsu.edu.
The Staff of the Florida Climate Center
David Zierden
State Climatologist
Danny Brouillette
Service Climatologist
March Climate Summary for Florida 
The Florida Climate Center's March 2017 Florida Climate Summary is now available.  The summary provides an analysis of temperature and precipitation patterns during the past month across the state, along with data on hazardous weather, drought, the impacts of the weather, and any records tied or broken for the month.  During March, temperatures were slightly above the historical median statewide, averaging 66.0 degrees Fahrenheit and ranking 40th highest on record since 1895.  The statewide-averaged rainfall total was much below the historical median, coming at 1.20", making for the ninth-driest March on record.  Neutral ENSO conditions continue in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, and the outlook for summer and beyond is very uncertain, with much guidance leaning toward El Nino conditions.  Drought, severe in some areas, is affecting much of the state, and more information is provided about this situation later in the newsletter.  For the next month, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center outlooks Florida for increased chances of above-normal temperatures and equal chances of below- near-, or above-normal rainfall.     
The following table gives March average temperatures and departures from normal (˚F) for selected cities.
Station  Average Temperature  Departure from Normal 
Pensacola  65.6    +5.3   
Tallahassee   63.1     +2.7   
Jacksonville  62.3    +0.6   
Gainesville      63.1             +0.8        
Orlando    68.8      +1.9   
Tampa   70.0     +2.7   
West Palm Beach  70.5    0.0  
Miami   73.4     +0.8   
Key West  74.7   +1.5  
The following table gives March precipitation totals and departures from normal (inches) for selected cities. 
Total Rainfall 
Departure from Normal 
 Pensacola      2.36     -3.27
 Tallahassee   1.19  -4.75
 Jacksonville  1.07 -2.88
 Gainesville    0.67         -3.66      
 Orlando  0.10 -3.67
 Tampa   0.99  -2.04
 West Palm Beach       1.52    
 Miami  3.92     +0.92   
 Key West 
The following schematic maps March precipitation departures from normal across Florida.  Image courtesy of the National Weather Service.    
Drought Expands and Intensifies; Governor Declares State of Emergency over Wildfires
The period from October to May forms the core of the annual dry season on most of the Florida peninsula, while the area north and west of approximately Gainesville has a secondary wet season.  However, this year's dry season on the peninsula has been much drier than a typical one as shown below in the map of rainfall departures from normal since 1 October.

In some places in south Florida, rainfall in the last six months has been only one-quarter of normal.  Correspondingly, drought has developed in a large section of central and south Florida.  Below is the latest issue of the US Drought Monitor.

Significantly, as the peak of Florida's wildfire season approaches in May, this drought has resulted in increasingly favorable conditions for wildfires to initiate and spread.  The number of wildfires and the number of acres burned by wildfires has much exceeded average.  Conditions are likely to get worse before they get better, when the summer rainy season begins in late May and early June, leading Governor Rick Scott to issue an emergency declaration to expedite government response to wildfires.  Additionally, the St. Johns River Water Management District and South Florida Water Management District have issued orders for water conservation in fears of possible water shortages.      
Florida Wins CoCoRaHS March Madness

In last month's newsletter, we announced that, each March, CoCoRaHS (or, the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, and Snow Network) has a push for observer recruitment called March Madness.  March Madness pits the 50 states among each other to recruit the most new observers. 

The final results have come in, and Florida won, having recruited the most new observers, 135 total, of any of the states during March. 

Led by Danny Brouillette, service climatologist at the Center, and Ivetta Abramyan, an earth-sciences professor at the Florida State College Jacksonville, CoCoRaHS has been a fixture in Florida's climate observation network since 2007.  Observers are citizen volunteers who report daily rainfall accumulation as well as instances of hail and snow (rare in Florida) via the Internet.  If you are interested in becoming an observer or have ideas for recruiting them, please contact Danny Brouillette at dbrouillette@coaps.fsu.edu or 850-644-0719. 

Center Participates in FSU Day at the Capitol

Representing the Florida Climate Center (FCC) and the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), of which the FCC is a unit, service climatologist Danny Brouillette - along with other COAPS staff members Steve Morey, Jeremy Rolph, Shawn Smith, and Kris Suchdeve -  helped man a booth at the annual Florida State University (FSU) Day at the Capitol on 4 April.  This event, which took place in the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee, showcases the impact of FSU on Florida's economic and cultural life.            

State Climatologist Gives Seminar on Climate Variability and Recent Events at University of Florida

Unlike when talking about football or other sports, Florida State University at Tallahassee and University of Florida in Gainesville share a strong partnership through the Florida Climate Institute .  Facilitated by this partnership, State Climatologist David Zierden presented a seminar on climate variability and recent events at University of Florida's Department of Environmental and Global Health on 4 April.  He talked about the recent streak of above normal temperature in the state, the impacts of last year's strong El Nino and this fall's weak La Nina, and how they impacted the environment.  The seminar was followed by a lunch time discussion of climate and health issues with the students and faculty.        

Giving Environmental Justice Series at Trinity UMC

State Climatologist David Zierden kicked off a lesson series at Tallahassee's Trinity United Methodist Church on 19 April with a class on the basics of Climate Change.  Emphasis was put on aspects of climate change that affect Florida the most, namely sea level rise, hurricanes, and extreme rainfall. 
Florida Climate Center in the News

Upcoming Events

26 April:  Tri-State Climate Working Group for Row Crops - Bi-annual meeting - Bainbridge, Georgia
4-5 May:  NASA ROSES Heat Vulnerability project meeting - Albany, New York 

About Us 

The Florida Climate Center is part of a three-tiered system of national, regional, and state climate offices, including NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI - in Asheville, North Carolina) and the Southeast Regional Climate Center (in Chapel Hill, North Carolina). The Florida State Climatologist and other staff at the Florida Climate Center provide the following information and services to the people of Florida:


· Climate Data:

Historical weather observations for weather stations throughout the state of Florida. We are able to provide data for most stations from 1948-present.


· Climate Information:

Long-term historical averages for various stations, climate divisions, and the entire state.


· Extreme Event Records:

Information and analyses on extreme events such as freezes, droughts, floods and hurricanes.


· Special Analysis:

With their vast knowledge of El Niño, La Niña and climate variability, the State Climatologist and staff can offer expert insight into Florida's climate trends.


· Outreach:

Activities, presentations, and workshops that inform and educate the people of Florida about current and emerging climate issues. We also coordinate volunteers for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network (CoCoRaHS).


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