We have received only 4.87 inches of rain since January 1. The last time the year’s first four months had less than 5 inches of rainfall was in 1954. Only one year in Jacksonville’s record books was drier than that. It was 1916 when there were less than 2 inches. This year the La Nina in the eastern Pacific played a large part in our lack of rain. Mild, dry weather, along with high pressure, provided us with an abundance of sunny skies and rainless clouds. In La Nina years, we have a rainy season during the winter months when the polar front collides with tropical moisture, especially when low pressures develop in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical systems, including hurricanes, do not regularly contribute to our rainfall, but a persistant low pressure trough pattern over the Mississippi Valley or northeastern U.S. sometimes causes repetitive storms and flooding rains over our region. The year 2004 was a good example of this with Bonnie, Charley, Frances, and Jeanne. The predictions for this year’s hurricane season calls for about half as many Atlantic storms as in 2011.

The end of our spring droughts usually don’t happen until we see the commencement of scattered showers over the southern end of the state. As the days grow longer and the sun heats the U.S. mainland, moist maritime air is drawn inland creating the summer monsoon effect. We’ll be watching for that to happen around the last week of May or the first part of June.


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