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Tampa Bay area upgraded to a severe drought

The lack of rainfall continues to worsen the drought across the state, increasing the brush fire risk.

ST. PETERSBURG – You don't need us to tell you that it has been very dry for most of 2023. But the latest numbers are in from the drought monitor – and it's not good.

The Tampa Bay area has now been upgraded from a moderate drought to a severe drought. That is an increase from a level one to a level two out of four. If the drought continues to worsen, we could see it move into extreme or exceptional drought.

So what are the possible impacts now that we are in a severe drought?

Crop or pasture losses, water shortages and water restrictions are all possible impacts of a severe drought. It also increases the fire risk across the area.

Most of west-Central Florida is under a severe drought, but the worst conditions are actually down to Southwest Florida. Near Lee and Collier counties an extreme drought is being reported. This is also in an area with a lot of dead vegetation from Hurricane Ian. The dead blowdown debris and dry conditions mean that wildfire risks will be elevated until the rainy season.