MIDWAY, Fla. (WTXL) -- Limited rainfall in parts of the region has caused slight alleviation in the drought intensity, but most local counties now have at least abnormally dry conditions.
The weekly update of the Drought Monitor from the National Drought Mitigation Center now includes the mid Suwannee Valley in the Abnormally Dry classification. Drought severity increases sharply around the Florida/Georgia state line, and peaks at Severe Drought level along the Withlacoochee River in south Georgia, and in the Okefenokee Swamp region.
Areas near the Apalachicola River and the Forgotten Coast are void of any official drought category, following a round of generous rain in the Panhandle and southern Alabama over the past 10 days.
Recent rainfall received in the Florida/Georgia line area Tuesday and Wednesday has not been factored in this week's drought monitor data.
While drought conditions remain elevated in Florida (where 79% of the state has at least Abnormally Dry conditions), areas of drought across the lower 48 states have shrunk since the beginning of the year, from 51% to 17%. The Severe classifications in south-central Florida and spots of south Georgia are the highest levels of drought currently observed in the United States.
All local drought categories are still described as "short-term" drought, meaning long-range conditions indicate an increase in rain activity as the summertime wet season approaches. This can cut down in the intensity and longevity of drought conditions if the wet season develops as usual.
Warmer-than-average temperatures, though, may maintain current dryness conditions and keep the drought threats in place, absent of substantial rain-producing events.