South Florida water supplies still strong after dry November

South Florida’s November turned out to be nearly as dry as an overcooked Thanksgiving Turkey.

After near-record rainfall in October, November produced just 32 percent of the normal rainfall.

November is officially the end of the hurricane and tropical storm season, so South Florida is settling into its winter-to-spring dry season.

Before October’s drenching, concerns were high about water supplies from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades as South Florida neared the dry season.

But even with just an average of just .75 inches of rainfall during November, water supplies from wellfields to wetlands are holding strong thanks to the soggier-than-expected October, according to the South Florida Water Management District.

“The short-term water supply outlook is favorable, and the next few months of typically cooler weather means we lose less water to evaporation,” Susan Sylvester, the district’s chief of water control operations, said on Dec. 2. “But we still have a forecast of below-average rainfall for the rest of the dry season, so we must remain cautious.”

Conditions improved so much in October that the district in November lifted emergency, drought-triggered watering restrictions on homes and businesses as well as farms and golf courses.

Homes and businesses must still follow year-round landscape water limits. Broward and Miami-Dade counties allow watering up to twice a week and most of Palm Beach County can water three times per week.

One of the biggest signs of water supply improvement since October has been water levels in Lake Okeechobee, South Florida’s primary backup water supply.

The lake this year dropped to its lowest point since 2008, but then rose almost 3 feet during October.

Lake levels declined some in November but remain outside the water-shortage range.

On Thursday the lake was 13.74 feet above sea level, still one foot below normal but also one foot higher than this time last year.