The latest Drought Monitor map shows improvement across much of the United States; the only exception is Georgia and Florida which is dealing with not only severe drought, but a high fire risk too.
An abundance of precipitation has eliminated much of the dry conditions that plagued a large part of the country prior to the winter. Heavy winter rain and snow in California has erased almost all of the drought there, allowing the Governor to lift the Drought Emergency there. Recently, the Midwest was inundated with heavy rains from southern Kansas through Missouri and into southern Illinois and Indiana.
Heavy rain also fell across portions of the Mid Atlantic and Northeast this weekend, although this map reflects conditions prior to that rain’s arrival.
Unfortunately, drought conditions persist in Georgia and Florida. From January 1 through May 10, Orlando, Florida only had 3.18″ of rain; that’s the same amount that was recorded in the 1907 drought. The driest on record was 2.64″ in 1898. While great for tourists, the lack of rain has been bad for lawns, agriculture, and water systems: Orlando did not get rain last month and has not had significant rain since mid-February. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, central Florida spring flows are weakening; they are supplied by the Floridan Aquifer, which is replenished by rain. More than 100,000 acres have gone up in flames from wild fires in the Sunshine State, due in part to the drought.