drought collage

Images of drought in Florida. Courtesy of UF/IFAS.

About Drought

For a state that receives about 58 inches of rain annually, a discussion of drought in Florida might appear to be of little relevance. But drought is a part of our climate, just like hurricanes, thunderstorms, wildfires, and tornadoes. Unlike the other hazards that affect the state, droughts can impact large areas and last for months, even years.

So, what is drought? Drought is a difficult concept to define. It's typically defined as a prolonged period when there is a precipitation deficit from normal values. But what's important in defining a drought are the duration of these below normal precipitation amounts and their impacts on the state. Drought can affect water supplies, agriculture, and fire danger levels and is measured on the basis of the severity of these impacts.

The National Drought Mitigation Center has extensive resources on the concepts of drought, how it's defined and the different types of drought.

Historic Drought

Because drought is defined on so many different levels, has differing impacts, and can happen on short or long time scales, it is hard to compare one drought to another. An examination of weather records since 1900 reveals that in every decade there has been at least one severe and widespread drought somewhere within Florida. Droughts that began in 1906, 1927, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1961, 1968, 1980, 1984, 1998, and 2006 were the most severe.

Drought Types

The term 'drought' has over 150 published definitions based on differences in regions, needs, and approaches. For the purposes of climate, we use the following definitions of drought:

Drought Indices

Just as there are many definitions and types of drought, there are many ways to interpret drought and drought conditions.

Current State of Florida Drought

U.S. Drought Monitor