JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Months of below normal rainfall with temperatures much higher than average have lead to our area becoming a tender box; ripe for fires sparked by afternoon and overnight storms.
Overnight Monday, showers and storms accompanied by lots of lightning sparked two fires in St. Johns county. While these fires were small and brought under control quickly, they were just another reminder of the growing fire danger in an area growing ever drier.
While some areas as of late have received a reprieve from the drought, those that have benefited from strong afternoon storms has been limited. On Thursday, severe thunderstorms broke out over portions of Clay and Putnam counties bringing a quick, heavy dousing while most everybody else remained thirsty.
On Friday, more strong storms to severe thunderstorms erupted over Jacksonville leaving areas of Clay and Putnam counties high and dry, left victim to the intense summer temperatures. This equates to spraying one arm with 'Off' to protect against mosquitoes while your legs and other arm are being eaten to the bone. Then spray your leg a day later only to leave both arms and other legs exposed with no protection. We're getting the rain but it's just simply not enough.
It is worth noting though that some areas Sunday night picked up in excess of 3 inches of rain although these areas were highly localized.
The high sun angle and much above normal temperatures evaporate the ground moisture pretty rapidly. This leaves our area growing ever drier.
According to Annaleasa Winter from the Florida Forest Service, 724.5 acres have burned in our area through June 19th. Of the 38 wildfires that have broke out since May 21st, 28 of them have been caused by lightning, not including the two fires that were sparked by strikes in St. Johns county early Monday morning. above is a map of all the current fires provided by the Florida Forest Service.
Sunday marked the Summer Solstice. This means that the sun is as high as it's going to get in the sky. The insolation (incoming solar radiation) is at it's peak and things will only continue to dry out if mother nature doesn't provide us a drink.
Since January 1st, our area has recorded 15.14 inches of rain which is 4.76 inches below normal.
The month of May was especially dry coming in some 1.40 inches below normal. So far this month through through the 20th, June is coming in already 1.64 inches below normal.
Unlike the previous week, we're waking up to mostly cloudy to overcast skies here in metro Jacksonville thanks to decaying storms that erupted overnight. These skies should begin to break later this afternoon leaving us once again mostly sunny to partly cloudy and temperatures some 4 to 8 degrees above normal.
Monday's high temperature is expected to once again climb into the mid 90s with some areas even flirting with the century mark once again. Heat index values will soar to over 100° in many locations by Monday afternoon with some areas exceeding the dangerous threshold of 105°.
There is a slight chance of storms this afternoon as the heat of the day begins to set in. With such a hot atmosphere in place, there is always the chance of a rogue storm going severe at any time.
As the storms build this afternoon, another round of nocturnal storms can be expected as the atmosphere remains ripe for overnight development like we saw Sunday night into early Monday morning.
Who's ready for a break in the heat? I know I am. In fact, I may even do a cartwheel if the temperature fails to top 95 degrees by the end of the week.
The models are beginning to show indications that the heat wave is going to break heading into the end of the week as that pesky upper-level high begins to break down and shifts east. This will allow for our temperatures to drop back down into the low 90s for daytime highs with a chance of afternoon storms each and every day. We'll continue to watch to see if this forecast will hold true.
You know it's been a long stretch of hot temperatures when you celebrate the "cool spell" of lower 90s coming back into the forecast.