Orlando, FL

Record-Setting Drought in Orlando This May, With Only 0.17 Inches of Rain Last Month

Joe Duncan

If last month felt strangely dry to you, you're not alone. Orlando experienced a serious drought.

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Trees and sunshine in Orlando, FloridaDrew Coffman

This has been a weird year all the way around. Between the coronavirus pandemic that was first unleashed on American shores in early 2020, the subsequent great toilet paper shortage that came about as shoppers panicked and bought way more than they needed, to the lockdowns and vaccines, and the fights about the lockdowns and vaccines, it's been a bizarre year. And you know what could top all of it off? A surprising drought in Orlando, Florida, one of the wettest places in the United States.

This past month, in May of 2021, Orlando received only 0.17 inches of rain, which is about the size of three dimes laid down flat and stacked atop one another. Seriously, take out your tape measure and measure 0.17 inches, and you'll see how much rain the city of Orlando got for the entire month last month. That's only 0.4318 centimeters, so less than a half of a single centimeter.

For reference, Orlando's average for May is 4.02 inches of rain for the month; and the city's average for June is 8.05 inches of rain for the month. 0.17 inches is paltry. It's not even just a little bit less, it's several orders of magnitude smaller than the city's monthly average.

In nearby Winter Springs, Florida, the city needed to implement a policy that limits the amount of water residents could use in the small Seminole County city. Residents of certain street addresses were asked to only water their yards on certain days, while residents of other addresses were asked to do so on other days. Commercial businesses were designated for Fridays as the city struggled to get ahold of water shortages brought on by the drought. And it seems Orlando was no exception to the drought.

But what caused such scant rain for a city that's well-known for its wetness the nation over. After all, we're all probably familiar with memes like this that show Florida's erratic behavior in terms of rainfall in all of its beautiful glory.

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Internet meme depicting Florida’s temperamental rainWFTV 9

There were only three days with measurable rainfall all month in May. So what exactly is going on with this sudden drought that's causing residents in some cities to curb their water use?

Well, you can relax if you were fearing the apocalypse may be finally upon us. The National Weather Service issued a tweet about the sudden decline in rainfall this year stating that it's not, in fact, the end of the world. The previous monthly record was 0.43 inches of rain, so almost three times more than this new record, but still pretty low.

Also, the drought didn't affect all of the area, which we could expect if there was a major climate shift driving the drought. Orlando Executive Airport, for instance, received 1.36 inches of rain, while Sanford got 1.38 inches of rain last month. It seems like the rain just skipped around the city instead of passing over it.

We can expect Orlando to return to its regularly scheduled showers this month, now that it's June 1st. Nonetheless, call me a pluviophile, but I love the rain and I'm ready for it.

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Orlando, FL
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