Greene Publishing, Inc.
June turned out to be a dry month for the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), with rainfall averaging 4.57 inches across the district, or 70 percent of the normal, based on records going back to 1932.
“This was the 13th driest June in 82 years and the driest since 1998,” Megan Wetherington, SRWMD senior professional engineer, is quoted saying in the district’s latest hydrologic conditions report.
The document notes that June in fact ended five months of above-average rainfall that had resulted in the wettest winter and spring since 1998.
“Totals were also much below normal over the Suwannee River’s Georgia tributaries, with most areas receiving less than 50 percent of normal,” Wetherington said.
The average rainfall for the 12 months ending June 30 was 11.1 inches higher than the long-term average of 54.63 inches, a decrease of about four inches since May, according to the report. Meanwhile, the average rainfall for the three months ending June 30 was 34 inches higher than the long-term average of 13.4 inches.
Jefferson County received 3.57 inches, compared with the June average of 6.09 inches. The county received 62.83 inches of rainfall during the last 12 months, or 104 percent of the annual normal.
Madison County, for its part, received 3.03 inches, compared with the June average of 6.08 inches. Madison County received 65.40 inches during the last 12 months, or 116 percent of the annual normal.
River levels fell steadily across the district, although the Aucilla remained above normal after months of flooding. Lake levels dropped slightly, but largely remained above their long-term average levels.
As for groundwater, it is reported that levels fell in June after peaking in the spring with the highest levels since 2005. Only one well, in southern Jefferson County, fell below its long-term median, according to the report.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center’s (CPC) three-month outlook shows equal chances of above or below normal precipitation through September.
“The El Niño watch issued by the CPC in March remains in effect,” the report states. “Their June 6 report gave a 70 percent chance of El Niño in the summer and an 80 percent chance in the fall and winter. There is still uncertainty about the predicted strength of the El Niño, but most models slightly favor a moderate-strength event in the fall and winter.”
The El Niño, according to the National Weather Service (NWS), includes enhanced precipitation and severe weather in the southeast, projected to be strongest in the fall, winter and spring.
“In the summer, El Niño can reduce the formation of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic by causing increased wind shear,” the report states.
The SRWMD continues its Phase I Water Shortage Advisory, which urges the voluntary reduction of unnecessary water usage. Information about the SRWMD’s year-round lawn and landscape irrigation measures can be found at www.mysuwanneeriver.com.
The SRWMD encompasses all or parts of 15 counties in north-central Florida, including Madison and the eastern portion of Jefferson.
The monthly report is a compilation of data collected from radar-derived rainfall estimates, groundwater and surface water levels, river flows and other sources.