Mild weather predicted for 2014

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By Ashley Andresen, Staff Writer

If the saying stands true, that what happens on the first of the year is a good indication of how the rest of the year is to go, then 2014 just might be a little rainy. However, according to Paul Close, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in the Tampa Bay area, 2013 brought average rainfall and just above average temperatures, and 2014 is looking to do the same.

“It was a mild year in general,” said Close, who also explained that this year is likely to be “neutral,” that we don’t appear to be heading into an El Nino and that conditions will be similar to last year.

Based on figures from the Usher Tower, the Chiefland area received 58.83 inches of rain, 16.72 inches of that came in July and 10.6 in August, two of the wettest months last year. Close said it “looks like drought conditions will develop in the next few months,” and then things will return to normal as summertime afternoon thunder showers begin. 

Temperatures were 1.7 degrees above normal, making 2013 the ninth warmest year since 1956.

According to the Suwannee River Water Management District's December 2013 Hydrologic Conditions Report, groundwater levels fell at nearly half of monitored upper Floridan aquifer wells. Levels improved in Levy County, while in the drier central part of the district levels fell. 

Megan Wetherington, Senior Professional Engineer with SRWMD, said, “Levy rainfall in the last six months has been near normal in the northern half of the county, and between 8 and 14 inches above normal in the southern part. Groundwater levels have reacted accordingly. One of our monitor wells near Bronson had its highest water level since 2008.”  She went on to explain that wells in the southern part of the county have levels considered high, while those in the north are above average but have fallen since the high levels a year ago caused by tropical storms and heavy rains in 2012.

Also according to the report, there is a Phase I Water Advisory in effect that limits the use of landscape irrigation to once a week between the months of November and March. 

“The SRWMD requests that people voluntarily conserve water. That is the essence of the Phase I advisory, which is in effect district-wide. The watering part is a permanent rule that says people can irrigate their landscapes once per week during Eastern Standard Time,” Wetherington explained.

This water conservation rule applies to residential landscaping, public or commercial recreation areas and public and commercial businesses that aren’t regulated by a District-issued permit.