Breaking: 920,000 Palm Beach County residents living with moderate drought
A Thursday report from the National Drought Mitigation Center shows 70 percent of the county is in a moderate drought — the second tier on a 5-level drought scale — with the remainder considered abnormally dry.
The report does not include Wednesday’s lengthy downpour, but even with some areas of South Florida receiving more than 2 inches of rain, a prolonged dry spell has left Palm Beach County with a hefty rain deficit.
Following a tally of Wednesday’s rain totals, coastal areas of the county were still down 6 inches of rain, with inland areas at a deficit of between 3 and 4 inches, according to the South Florida Water Management District.
The airport received 1.70 inches on Wednesday — more in one day than the total amount received between Jan. 1 and Feb. 21.
“A fairly large rainfall deficit still exists for the dry season, therefore conservation is critical for protecting the water supply as the wet season is about three months away,” Smith said.
The average rainfall deficit for the 16 counties managed by the district was 4 inches as of Thursday.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index also improved.
On Thursday, the mean index level for Palm Beach County was 512, and there were no areas above 600, which is associated with more severe drought and an increase in intense wildfires.
“In Florida, we don’t have a wildfire season, we have activity all year long,” Peterich said.
“It just gets more heightened as we dry out.” On Thursday, 26 wildfires were burning statewide, but none were in Palm Beach County or the Treasure Coast.