WRUF Weather

From Drought to Deluge: 2011-2012 Rainy Season Comparisons


There’s a lot of talk about deficits these days, especially coming from politicians in this year’s Presidential Election when referring to our economy.  One deficit that we can say has been erased, with certainty, is the rainfall for Gainesville leading up to this year’s rainy season.  Largely aided by two tropical storms, Beryl and Debby, much of North-Central Florida has received a surplus of water over the past six months.

The rainy season for Florida is loosely defined by the period of time when showers and thunderstorms are common nearly every afternoon, most-often spawned by currents of air moving inland off the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico, referred to as sea breezes. We looked back through the records for Gainesville and found distinct start and end dates for both 2011 and 2012 when rainfall was recorded more days than not.  Ironically enough, the total number of days came out to be the same, with 2012’s season starting about eleven days earlier in the year.

The findings were remarkable!  Only 16.51 inches of rain was recorded during the period from May 26 to October 20 in 2011, with much of that occurring in the month of June.  The lower-than-average rainy season last year, followed by an extremely dry cool season led to a 12-month running deficit of approximately 20 inches before we saw those afternoon storms start to fire in May this year.  Little did we know that the deficit was soon to be erased.  And, in a hurry.

Tropical Storms Beryl and Debbie dumped a combined 15 to 20 inches of rain on much of Alachua County in just one month’s time, starting about a week after the rainy season began on May 15th.  While both of these storms seemed to erase the drought, there was concern that a new deficit was accumulating after an unusually dry month of July.  However, a shift in the weather pattern nationwide began to send more tropical moisture and some early season cold fronts in our direction, which ultimately led to an abnormally wet August and September, bringing the total rainfall for our 2012 rainy season to just shy of a whopping 43 inches!  Even without the help of the twin tropical storms, it’s interesting to note that the 2012 summer was much wetter and closer to average for rainfall typically recorded during those five months.

The WRUF weather team is forecasting a wetter-than-normal cool season for North-Central Florida over the coming six months, and we will release our official winter forecast by the end of October.


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