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Areas of drought are expanding across Florida

The greater Tampa Bay region is one of the driest areas in the state.

A drought is developing across most of the Sunshine State, and little relief is expected over the next few weeks.

On Thursday the Drought Monitor, released on a weekly basis by the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration and the US Department of Agriculture, classified just under half of Florida’s landmass under a drought.

This statistic has jumped about 10% since just last week. The driest areas—those under a moderate drought—include the Tampa metro, North Florida west of I-75 and the coast of the Panhandle

Although the winter months are considered Florida’s dry season, the past few months have been exceedingly dry. Year to date rainfall departures from the Panhandle to interior South Florida range from about 2 inches below normal to up to 10 inches below normal.

In addition to the lack of rainfall, several days long bouts of above average temperature continue to impact Florida, which has assisted in parching the landscape. Scientists blame both below average rainfall and recent stretches of above average heat for the proliferation of the drought.