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Drought conditions could get erased as tropical rains overspread Treasure Coast through Saturday

Ongoing drought could be wiped out after tropical rains visit the Treasure Coast.
Melissa Feito
/
Florida Public Radio Emergency Network
Heavy rainfall could lead to localized flash flooding after ongoing drought along the Treasure Coast.

Rains from the potential first tropical storm of the year are bringing much-needed rain to the Treasure Coast and the Lake Okeechobee area. The area is currently under a Tropical Storm Warning as a tropical system moves across the Gulf of Mexico.

The region is also experiencing a moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. “We’ve been in a drought since the start of the year,” said Miguel Nevarez, wildfire mitigation specialist for the Okeechobee District office of the Florida Forest Service.

In the past five months, the region has moved back and forth between moderate, high, and very high on the Fire Danger Index. During this period, wildfire activity has become more frequent.

According to the Forest Service, this year alone, there have been 1,795 wildfires in Florida so far. Nevarez said the effects of wildfires can be devastating. Uncontrolled fires can endanger agriculture, property and human life.

Tropical storm rains are expected to reduce the risk of these destructive fires. More moisture on the ground is likely to reduce wildfire activity. The rain itself will also work to put out contained fires and reduce the likelihood of breakout fires.

From a forestry standpoint, the impact of the rains on the dry forest will have largely positive effects. “More rain right now is just going to be beneficial,” said Nevarez.