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NOAA Spring Outlook Has Drought Expanding Along With Warmer Temperatures

Miami (CBSMiami) – The NOAA spring outlook released Thursday, March 17, is the outlook for the United States over the next three months.

For the second year in the row, the forecast calls for drought to persist in the West, where above normal temperatures and below normal rainfall is most likely from April through June.

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Drought will persist over the western U.S. with a higher chance for below normal rainfall. (CBSMiami)

Every state west of the Mississippi River has at least some area where an existing drought is expected to continue or develop.

"With nearly 60% of the U.S. experiencing minor to exceptional drought conditions, this is the largest drought coverage we've seen in the U.S. since 2013," said Jon Gottshalck, chief of the operational prediction branch at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

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Drought conditions improved this week over Florida. (CBSMiami)

For South Florida, the forecast calls for a better chance for above average temperatures along with equal chances of above or below average rainfall. The drought monitor released Thursday showed improvement in the state with the moderate drought area shrinking. The severe drought that was indicated in last week's report over the Nature Coast is no longer present.

In South Florida, there is no drought concern over the metro areas in Miami-Dade and Broward. However, inland Broward County remains abnormally dry.

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The equinox occurs this weekend as the sun appears to cross directly over the Equator. (CBSMiami)

This outlook comes a few days before the Vernal Equinox, marking the beginning of spring. It's the point when the sun appears to leave the southern hemisphere and cross directly over the equator. This point occurs Sunday, March 20, just after 11 a.m. Over the next three months you will notice the daylight hours getting longer and the sun angle increasing.

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Daylight increases along with the sun angle for us here in Florida over the next 3 months. (CBSMiami)

The dry season lasts for another month and a half before we typically see daily storms and rainfall amounts increasing. The wildfire season continues and often overlaps with the start of rainy season.

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La Nina conditions continue in the Pacific but may weaken over the next few months. (CBSMiami)

The next outlook to watch for will be for the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. La Niña continues but a few forecasts call for that to weaken or even dissipate by this summer. Typically, it leads to lighter wind in the Atlantic which in turn can lead to a more active season. It's one of the factors that go into the forecast and will continue to be monitored for any forecast changes.

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