Water-Related News

End of 2018 unusually wet in Central Florida

Polk County records 2nd-rainiest December in 103 years

LAKELAND — The central section of Florida, including Polk County, had its second-rainiest December in 103 years.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District released preliminary rainfall totals Wednesday for December. The central region received 7.93 inches of rain, more than 5.5 inches above the historic average dating to 1915.

Two cold fronts in December dropped heavy rainfall on the region, said Steve DeSmith, a senior professional geologist for the water district, also known as Swiftmud. Some areas of northern Polk County received more than 3 inches of rain Dec. 20, when a front stalled over the area.

“The rain fronts come down and interact with the tropical moisture,” DeSmith said. “If they have too much energy or move too quickly, we don’t get a lot. It’s just that right combination where they come through, like that last one stalled for a couple of days, according to the National Weather Service. It produced a lot of rain in the northern and central region and not so much in the southern region.”

DeSmith said the December totals are provisional, based on information supplied by a contractor. He said the official totals, incorporating data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will be issued within a week, along with the figure for 2018.

The rainfall totals for the central region will probably be around the 80th percentile of historic rates, DeSmith said. Anything above the 75th percentile is in the high range.

Water levels in the Floridan Aquifer for the central region were measured at 86 percent at year’s end, compared with 58 percent a year earlier. The aquifer is a natural storage structure underlying most of the state.