Forecasting Change: Average rain on the rise in Central Florida

Winter, spring drying up in the Sunshine State

ORLANDO, Fla. – Over the course of the last century, records show a trend to wetter annual conditions in last four consecutive “normal periods.” For comparison, keep in mind that “normals” are recalibrated for 30-year periods. Even though some areas of our country, like the Southwest, are in a prolonged, severe drought, the average across the U.S. is up.

Here in Central Florida, our average precipitation is on the rise. The chart below shows that much of that increase is coming from heavier, more intense rain in the summer. Winter and spring have dried out.

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Changing precipitation normals

This increase of heavy, intense thunderstorms is part of a changing weather pattern due to a warming planet. As a rule, we expect more rainfall from a warmer atmosphere due to increased evaporation of our lakes and oceans. More evaporation means more precipitation when the atmosphere is triggered for storms.

The chart below shows how our “new normal” is changing when using the temperature as a measure. Since 1901, the temperature in Orlando is up more than 1.5 degrees.

If allowed to continue longer periods of drought in winter followed by intense summer rain will become our way of life.

Difference from average

About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.