Drought is expanding across our area. Here’s where — and when it might end

File Photo (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File) (Steven Senne, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- – The lack of rain continues to take its toll across the region, and dry conditions are now expanding eastward.

Last week’s Drought Monitor from the National Drought Mitigation Center showed dry conditions primarily along the I-75 corridor and in coastal sections of Southeast Georgia.

Drought Index for Last Week

This week, conditions have gotten slightly worse.

Abnormally dry conditions have pushed eastward to include most of Southeast Georgia. It has also expanded into most of Nassau County, and the far Northside of Jacksonville.

Drought Index for this week

Where’s the rain?

The sunshine and warm conditions may have been great for getting holiday decorations up and getting shopping done, but it has done nothing to improve the developing dry conditions.

The same high-pressure area responsible for the warmth is also responsible for keeping the area dry.

For the month of December, the Jacksonville International Airport has received no rainfall. This creates a December deficit already of -0.69″.

The last measurable rainfall was Nov. 30, when 0.27″ of rain fell.

The moderate drought conditions continue to hold in western areas, including cities like Lake City and Valdosta.

This drought level is causing notable dryness on lawns and fields, but significant issues are not being reported, according to the UF/IFAS Extension Columbia County.

An even more serious drought continues in the Big Bend and Panhandle areas, where a severe drought remains in place.

Tallahassee has a rainfall deficit of over seven inches since Sept. 1.

Some relief ahead?

While it is a bit concerning the dry conditions are spreading, some relief may be on the way this weekend and later in the month.

Rain chances begin to return starting this weekend, with even higher rain chances for next week.

The rain chances may linger into the next couple of weeks.

6-10 Day Precipitation Outlook

Both the 6-10 Day and 8-14 Day outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center indicates average to above average rainfall expected during mid-to-late December.

The average rainfall in the mid-to-late December stretch in Jacksonville is 0.85″. This rainfall likely wouldn’t be enough to wipe out the drought in western areas but could eliminate the abnormally dry conditions in coastal areas.

8-14 Day Precipitation Outlook

Any rainfall is important this time of year as drought conditions often persist and expand heading into the winter months. This often leads to water restrictions, agricultural issues and increased brushfire danger in the spring months.

While dry conditions are beginning to spread across the region, rainfall later this month may be critical to stopping the expansion.—