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Key West, Florida Ends Long Dry Spell

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:52 PM GMT on February 15, 2013

Key West, Florida ends long Dry Spell

On February 14th .60” of rain fell at the official weather site in Key West, Florida. This was its heaviest daily rainfall since last October 15th when .69” fell.

Key West is Florida’s driest location so far as average annual precipitation goes with 39.83” being the norm for the 1981-2010 period of record. (Florida’s wettest location is Niceville in the state’s Panhandle near Fort Walton Beach with 70.97”). Key West is relatively dry compared to the rest of the state since it doesn’t receive the typical daily summer afternoon thunderstorms that develop over the landmass of the peninsula as a result of diurnal heating and sea breeze convergence. A good portion of Key West’s rainfall often results from tropical storms. In years when no tropical storms affect the island very dry conditions may result. For instance, the year 1974 was Key West’s driest on record with an annual total of only 19.99” (also a Florida state record). In yet a tropical storm once dropped 23.28” in a single day on November 11, 1980.



Key West receives most of its annual precipitation from tropical storms or weak tropical waves that pass over the island. The summer thunderstorms so common to the rest of the state are relatively rare occurrences here. Photo from Nature Wallpapers.

This past fall and winter (so far) has been exceptionally dry in Key West. Every month since July 2012 has averaged below normal. Only 1.69” of rain has fallen since late October (including the .60” that fell on Thursday!).

PRECIPITATION AT KEY WEST SINCE SUMMER OF 2012

MONTHLY PRECIP (NORMAL)

Jan. 2013 .29” (2.04”)

Dec. 2012 .67” (2.22”)

Nov. 2012 .13” (2.30”)

Oct. 2012 3.32” (4.93”)

Sep. 2012 5.53” (6.71”)

Aug. 2012 3.25” (5.38”)

Six month total for August 2012-January 2013: 13.19” (normal is 23.58”), -10.39” below normal (56% of normal).

The recently released NCDC monthly summary for January shows that the month was Florida’s 7th driest January on record:



This past January Florida was the driest state in the contiguous U.S. so far as departure from normal is concerned. Map from NESDIS/NOAA.

January was also one of the warmest such on record for Florida, ranking 109th out of 119:



Florida was tied with Georgia as the warmest state in January so far as departure from normal is concerned. By the way, January was also above normal temperature-wise for the contiguous U.S. as a whole with an average of 32.0°F (+1.6°F above normal). That might come as a surprise to many folks in the East and Midwest. Map from NESDIS/NOAA.


Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

Mini Blog Extreme Weather Precipitation Records

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Florida- just like the Caribbeans- has been affected by abnormally warm conditions between December and January.
Several places in the Caribbeans (even in the north) haven't recorded temperature below 70F for the whole period Dec12-Jan13. This is absolutely unprecedented.
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