Apr 4, 2023 - News

Miami sees slightly more precipitation this past winter

Winter 2022-23 precipitation anomalies
Data: NOAA; Map: Axios Visuals

Miami got 7.5 inches of precipitation this past winter — 1.1 inches more than average, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: Wintertime precipitation can cause hazardous conditions from blizzards and ice storms, which prevent travel and knock out power — but it can also alleviate drought, especially in mountainous areas that rely on melting snowpack each spring to replenish groundwater supplies.

The big picture: Nationally, a band of heavier-than-usual precipitation stretched from California to Minnesota:

  • Much of California and the midwestern United States had some of the wettest winter weather on record.
  • The opposite was true in the Pacific Northwest and in parts of Texas and Florida, which were significantly drier than average.

Zoom in: Miami's winter was the 30th wettest, based on 127 years of data.

  • Naples, Florida, meanwhile, had its driest winter on record, with just 0.95 inches of precipitation — about 3.5 inches below average.

Of note: For this analysis, "winter" is defined as Dec. 1, 2022 – Feb. 28, 2023.

Between the lines: It's no surprise that several California towns set or came close to setting new wintertime precipitation records considering the frequent strong storms affecting the Golden State in recent months.

  • Much of California's precipitation lately has been driven by atmospheric rivers — "long, narrow highways of moisture, typically located at about 10,000 to 15,000 feet above the surface," as Axios' Andrew Freedman writes in this helpful explainer.
  • That California is getting so much precipitation is easing concerns about drought there somewhat.
  • Still, what's fallen so far is nowhere near enough to fully resolve the water crisis that continues to plague the American West.

The bottom line: Climate change is raising the odds and severity of precipitation extremes — both heavy rain and snow as well as prolonged and severe dry spells.

  • However, it does not mean that every season, and even each year, will set a record.
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