Rainy season showers bring needed relief | News, Sports, Jobs

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With Lee County previously reporting rainfall levels in June ranging from just under 3 inches at the Gateway to more than 11 inches at the North Reservoir, the rainy season is in full swing in southwest Florida, bringing afternoon downpours and a humid climate.

Constant showers and lightning storms during the afternoon commute are a sure sign that “rainy” or “Thunderstorm season” has come. In southwest Florida, the rainy season lasts from May 15 to October 15, according to the National Weather Service.

“In the late spring and summer months from June to September, the tropical climate shifts northwards into our area and this in combination with the oceans around the Florida peninsula and the daily sea breezes lead to our thunderstorm season.” said NWS in Tampa Bay officials.

The NWS said that in some years the rainy season can start abruptly while in others a waiting period can be expected. In order for the thunderstorm season to become active, certain requirements must be met.

A combination of the Bermuda High (a high pressure system over the Atlantic with the ability to affect the movement of tropical systems in the Atlantic Basin), sea surface temperatures in excess of 82 degrees offshore, the increase in humidity and surface dew points in the 1970s.

NWS officials said these conditions will start forming in late May or early June before declining in late September to early October. Approximately 55 to 70% of the state’s rainfall occurs between June and September.

According to the NWS, the rainy season usually has three phases:

• The end of May to the beginning of July is “Stormiest” Part of the season. Severe weather conditions include noxious winds, waterspouts, tornadoes, excessive lightning, hail, and flood rain.

• It stays hot, humid and wet from the beginning of July to the beginning of September

• From mid-September to the beginning of October, the precipitation variability tends to be higher due to potential tropical systems and cold fronts in early autumn.

The outlook for the 2021 rainy season from NWS calls for a higher probability that it will be wetter and warmer than normal. NWS predicts temperatures will likely be 0.5 to 1 degree F per month above 30 year normal, resulting in warmer night and morning temperatures.

When it comes to precipitation prospects, NWS has one “Low to medium” Confidence level due to weak and mixed signals from competing factors.

NWS officials said current LaNina conditions, which have contributed to drier than normal conditions for much of the dry season, are expected to transition to ENSO-neutral conditions. A consensus among the long-haul models suggests an increased likelihood of above-average rainfall, while the trends slightly indicate more than normal rainfall.

NWS said the flood risk for South Florida is average.

“Despite the increased likelihood of above-average rainfall during this rainy season, the flood risk for South Florida is average (8-10 significant events per rainy season), as the water level at the beginning of the rainy season is almost to slightly below normal.” Officials said.

Weather hazards associated with the rainy season include lightning, noxious thunderstorm winds, flooding, hail, and even tornadoes. NWS defines May through August as the time when most of the severe weather events in South Florida (floods, large hail, tornadoes, and high winds) occur.

“In addition, rip currents are common due to the persistent onshore winds.” NWS officials said. “These hazards do not include effects from tropical systems that may affect South Florida, particularly during the peak months of August, September and October.”

Ban on fertilizers now in force

June 1st marked the first day of Lee County’s fertilization ban under a 2008 ordinance. The ban will last until September 30th. The use of fertilizers containing nitrogen or phosphorus is prohibited throughout the period.

This regulation was enacted to prevent potentially harmful nutrients contained in fertilizers from being washed from the lawn into the rainwater drains during the rainy months. The fertilizer restrictions apply to citizens and professional landscapers in the unincorporated Lee County.

Important points to keep in mind:

• Nitrogen and / or phosphorus fertilizers are not allowed from June 1st to September 30th

• No fertilization of any kind allowed when a storm watch or warning is in effect

• No fertilizers may be used within a radius of 3 m around bodies of water, sewers or wetlands.

• No grass clippings or plant remains may be swept or blown into ditches, drains, bodies of water, sidewalks or lanes.

• Any manure that lands on an impermeable surface must be immediately retained and removed for appropriate storage or application. Manure must not be swept, washed or blown from impermeable surfaces into bodies of water.

• Deflectors must be used on spreaders and positioned so that the granulate is diverted away from fertilizer buffer zones, impermeable surfaces and bodies of water.

Water Restrictions And How To Be Smart

The Southwest Florida Water Management District encourages residents who water their lawns to take advantage of the upcoming summer rainy season and “Watch the weather, wait for the water.”

In the summer months of June, July, August and September, the farms require no more than half an inch to three quarters of an inch of water every two to three days.

“When rain has given your lawn enough water, turn off the irrigation system and turn it on again if necessary.” SWFMD officials said.

The easiest way to tell if your garden needs water is to look for these visual cues:

• Blades of grass are cut in half lengthways on at least a third of your garden.

• Blades of grass appear blue-gray.

• Blades of grass do not spring back and leave footprints on the lawn for a few minutes after being walked on.

Follow these tips if you can “Watch the weather, wait for the water”:

• If your yard shows signs of needing water, check your local weather forecast to see if there is rain on the way.

• Use a rain gauge to see how much rain your garden has received.

• If you have a rain sensor, make sure it is working properly.

• Make full use of the rain. Make sure the gutter downpipes are directed towards landscaped areas or lawns.

• Install a rain barrel to catch excess rainwater.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

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