Fire Weather Outlook

April – June, 2015

Updated April 1, 2015

Recent Conditions

Above-average rainfall from last year and periodic rainfall at the beginning of this year has provided moist conditions for the northern and central portions of the state for the start of this year.  KBDI values over 500 are currently only being seen in the southern parts of the state in FFS Region Four at this time.  This winter brought a series of cold fronts fueled by the jet stream which provided rainfall in linear bands across the northern and central parts of the state.  Despite the rain that has been seen so far this year, the majority of the state has seen below-average rainfall for 2015.  In January, a narrow strip of the panhandle around the big bend region and the majority of FFS Districts Eight, Ten, and Twelve saw above-average rainfall with amounts 1 – 3 inches above normal; the rest of the state saw average to below-average rainfall with northwestern areas of the panhandle and coastal areas of Martin and Palm Beach Counties seeing the largest deficits of 2 – 3 inches. 

In February, a linear band of above-average rainfall was seen throughout the big bend region of the panhandle and across areas of FFS Districts 11, 12, and 14.  Above-average rainfall was also seen on the immediate coastal areas of FFS Districts 16 and 18, as well as spotty areas between Lake Okeechobee and Fort Myers; these surpluses were caused by rainfall produced by sea breeze/lake breeze conditions and low-level convergence which caused low duration/high intensity showers.  The rest of the state for the month of February saw average to below-average rainfall with the largest deficits seen in the western panhandle with deficits of 2 – 3 inches.  Despite entering a weak El Niño event in March, the month of March saw below-average precipitation throughout almost the entire state.  The Fort Myers area saw the only surplus in rainfall throughout the state with 1 – 2 inches above normal.  The rest of the state experienced a deficit in rainfall with areas of the western panhandle and coastal areas of the big bend receiving the largest deficits of 4 – 5 inches.  Overall, the majority of the state for the start of this year has experienced average to below-average rainfall with the largest deficits seen in the western panhandle of 8 – 12 inches.  Few areas have seen above-average rainfall and are located in patchy areas between Tampa and Melbourne.

The past three months have produced slightly above normal temperature anomalies throughout the state; these anomalies for the past 3 months have been between 0 – 2 degrees Fahrenheit.  The month of March has brought us above-average temperatures throughout the state as well.  The central areas of Florida have been between 6 – 8 degrees Fahrenheit above normal while the rest of the state has experienced 4 – 6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the month of March.  

Long-Range Weather Outlook

Looking ahead through the next three months, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting an equal chance for above-average, normal, and below-average temperatures for April through June; although this information may seem like “normal” temperature values are expected, above-average and below-average temperatures are given the same probabilities as a “normal” temperature-regime outlook for these months.  Above-average precipitation is forecasted for April through June for the northern half of the state (areas north of Tampa and Melbourne) with the western panhandle regions expecting the greatest probability of above-average rainfall.  The southern half of the state however is expected to receive an equal chance for above-average, normal, and below-average rainfall.

The Climate Prediction Center has recently issued an El Niño Advisory which means that a weak El Niño event is currently present.  Positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies continue across the majority of the equatorial Pacific Ocean and equatorial SST anomalies across the eastern Pacific Ocean have increased in the past couple weeks due to an upwelling phase of a Kelvin wave event which will help to promote El Niño conditions.  With all of these factors in place, the Climate Prediction Center has declared a 50 to 60 percent chance that El Niño conditions will continue through summer 2015.

Summary and Fire Potential Outlook

The majority of the state is currently experiencing below-average rainfall for this time of year.  Areas that have seen around average rainfall include northern regions of FFS Districts 5 and 6, southern areas of FFS District Four, northwestern areas of FFS Region Four, and the majority of FFS Region Three.  Small, patchy areas of FFS Districts 12 and 16 have seen above-average rainfall for the year, however these surpluses are not significant (2-4 inches).  The past three months has also brought the state slightly above normal temperatures with the majority of the warm anomalies occurring in the month of March.

Above normal precipitation is expected for the northern half of the state in the next three months with the western panhandle receiving the greatest probability of a surplus in rainfall. Chances for normal values and anomalies in precipitation in the southern half of the state and in temperatures throughout the state are currently equal for April through June.  A weak El Niño event is currently occurring with a 50 to 60 percent chance that it may continue through this summer.  This event could possibly bring the state below-average temps. and above-average rainfall for the next three months.  These conditions could likely decrease the number of days for optimal prescribed burning conditions, but will also lessen the chance of any severe wildfire activity.

The next seasonal outlook will be the first week in July, 2015. 


Additional Information

Three Month Temperature and Precipitation Outlook (CPC)

Drought Outlook (NOAA)

Fire Potential National Outlook (NIFC)