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Florida Newsletter / February 2012   

In This Issue
Groundhog Day
January Rains
January CoCoRaHS Totals
Current State of the Drought
Odds and Ends
Quick Facts

1,194 Registered FL Observers  


462 Active FL Observers

11,546 FL Reports Submitted during 1/12


 Greatest # of Daily Reports Submitted during January: 402 on 1/12/12


Most Rainfall Reported during January: 1.86" on 1/18/12 from Station FL-JK-2

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Groundhog Day



On February 2, Punxsutawney Phil - the world's most famous weather forecasting groundhog - made his prediction for the upcoming spring. Would we see an early spring or would we be subjected to six more weeks of winter?  


Well, Phil saw his shadow, despite the cloudy skies, and forecasted that winter will continue. My daughter joked that maybe Phil has a deal with Jack Frost, referencing one of her favorite childhood stories. Since 1886, the groundhog has only predicted an early spring 16 times. Most Florida residents experienced above normal temperatures during January, so the prediction of more winter was a bit of a surprise, especially since La Ni�a is in control of our weather patterns and we are forecasted to have above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation through May.  


Though, truth be told, there are about 40 different weather forecasting groundhogs in the United States and Canada, and about 70% of them predicted an early spring.


If you are interested in predictions of temperature and precipitation over the next two weeks or even out to three months, NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has a variety of forecast maps.


January Rains

Rainfall totals were below normal statewide in January (Table 1). North Florida and the Panhandle had 2 inches or more below typical rainfall amounts for the month, which compounded the drought problems that have been lingering since October 2010. The month was the driest on record at Orlando and was the 4th driest on record at Jacksonville. Though rainfall was scarce across the state, there were a few daily precipitation records that were broken during January (Table 2). Areal patterns of monthly rainfall relative to normal are depicted in Figure 1.

Precipitation Totals
Table 1: January precipitation totals and departures from normal (inches) for select cities.
Table 2: Daily rainfall records (inches) broken during January (compiled from NOAA, NWS).
Precipitation Totals 

Figure 1: A graphical depiction of the monthly rainfall departure from normal (inches) for January (courtesy of NOAA, NWS)

rainfall graphic

January CoCoRaHS Totals

Here are the CoCoRaHS rainfall totals for December from some select CoCoRaHS stations across the state.
Rainfall totalls


Current State of the Drought

January marks the beginning of the wildfire season in Florida, though there have been fires actively burning since fall of 2011. The lack of precipitation last year, only 48.52" statewide, will exacerbate the wildfire season as we move into our typically dry spring. At the beginning of January, about 91% of the state had designated drought conditions; by the end of the month, every part of the state was experiencing drought, with about 86% of the state in moderate drought. The Panhandle continues to be plagued with extreme drought, with some of the areas that had seen improvements in December drying out once again. Manatee, Sarasota, De Soto, and Hardee Counties went from abnormally dry to severe drought during January. Continued La Ni�a conditions through the remainder of winter and into spring will mean decreased precipitation, and water restrictions remain in place in South Florida (the water level of Lake Okeechobee is now 13.31 ft) and restrictions in other areas could go into effect.


The National Drought Monitor is updated weekly, so you can always check the most recent conditions here:,SE.


Drought Monitor


Odds and Ends

The quality control efforts continued to prove helpful as we had a few reports in Florida that required some additional information. Most of the reports were flagged because of high values, and all but one turned out to be correct. I appreciate how understanding the contacted observers were, along with how quick they were to reply to my email. If you receive an email from me with the subject line 'Question About Your Recent CoCoRaHS Observation', please take a moment to answer me back. And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


You can now 'Like' Florida CoCoRaHS on Facebook! By joining our Facebook page, the latest Florida CoCoRaHS news items will automatically show up in your "news feed" when you first login to Facebook. To join, click the "Find us on Facebook" link in the menu bar of this email, then click the "like" button on our Facebook page.

Thank You! 
Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm! If at any time you have questions about CoCoRaHS, reading your rain gauge, or finding a location to setup your rain gauge, please feel to contact a Florida CoCoRaHS Coordinator. We are lucky enough to have regional support from National Weather Service offices across the state, as well as county/local help from several CoCoRaHS volunteers.


Griffin Photo

Melissa Griffin

Florida CoCoRaHS State Coordinator

Assistant State Climatologist

Florida Climate Center/Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies

Florida State University

232 R.M. Johnson Building

Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840

(850) 644-0719

[email protected]