On Feb. 14, 2019, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued an El Niño Advisory stating the weather pattern is expected to be weak, but may continue through the spring. The effects of a weak El Niño vary, but have been shown to increase rainfall, which reduces water demand in the region.
Regional water supplies are in excellent condition, thanks to above average rainfall in December and January. Daily river flows were well above normal for both months, allowing Tampa Bay Water to continue surface water production while maintaining the reservoir at full capacity.
Groundwater levels have also increased. In January 2019, groundwater levels were about 3.4 feet higher than in January 2018, with 1 foot of that increase occurring in December 2018.
In anticipation of the spring dry season, the Tampa Bay Seawater Desalination Plant is also producing water. It provided the region with 10 million gallons per day in December and 13 million gallons per day in January.
El Niño image courtesy of NOAA.