dry start to 2013
Southwest Florida enters the new year in need of rain, which may arrive later this week.
If that 20 to 40 percent chance for showers and storms materializes, it could be one of the few times the area sees rain during the first quarter of 2013.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center expects a drier than normal pattern for Southwest Florida — putting the region at risk for brush fire.
“For the year, we’re looking to be 6 1⁄3 inches below normal,” said NWS meteorologist Nicole Carlisle.
The Keetch-Byram Dought Index, which measures moisture in the soil, reports an elevated level of dryness for Charlotte, DeSoto and Sarasota counties.
The state average is 395 on the index, which ranges from zero to 800. Higher numbers indicate drier conditions.
In Charlotte County, the Cape Haze area and parts of the southern portion of the county are the driest areas, with a county average of 478.
DeSoto County’s average index score is 430, with the northwest corner being the driest.
Most of Sarasota County, especially north of Venice, is considered to be very dry with an average index score of 503. Sixty-seven percent of the county is above 500.
“We should be pretty dry until Thursday later in the afternoon,” Carlisle said.
To help keep your home protected from a brush fire, follow these tips:
• Clean the roof and gutters of debris.
• Clear a space around the house, as much as possible.
• Pick up dead limbs, branches, etc.
• Keep the lawn mowed.
• Don’t stack firewood next to the house.
• Keep a hose or fire extinguisher nearby when using a fire pit.
• Do not burn trash or debris.
• Do not flick cigarettes out of vehicles.
• Call 911 immediately if you see smoke.
Temperatures this week and into the weekend are expected to be in the upper 70s and lower 80s, with overnight lows in the upper 50s and lower 60s.
While hurricane season officially starts in six months, experts are beginning to study weather patterns and predicting how this year’s tropical season may unfold.
“One of the big uncertainties for the 2013 Atlantic basin hurricane season is whether or not El Niño develops,” wrote Philip Klotzbach and William Gray, of Colorado State University, in their “Qualitative Discussion of Atlantic Basin Seasonal Hurricane Activity for 2013,” which was issued on Dec. 7.
Andrea will be the first named storm.