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Officials continue to battle Florida wildfires amid record heat, dry conditions

Monday, May 11th 2020, 3:20 pm - The fires, which have damaged properties and prompted evacuations and road closures, are being attributed to unusually hot and dry conditions in the state.

Progress is being made on Florida wildfires that have been burning in recent days, with the two main blazes at now 75 per cent contained, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

As of May 11, the 5 Mile Swamp Fire, which currently encompasses 2,215 acres (8.96 square km), and Hurst Hammock Fire, consuming 1,248 acres (5.05 square km), are 75 per contained. The current number of active wildfires in the state can be found here.

RELATED: Record March heat, drought in Florida 'likely' sparked massive brush fire

The fires, which have damaged properties and prompted area evacuations and road closures, are being attributed to abnormal heat and dry weather in the state, with the Florida Panhandle among those hardest-hit. In Walton County last week, the Mussett Bayou Fire destroyed numerous structures, forcing the evacuations of about 500 residents.

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BELOW NORMAL RAINFALL, ABOVE NORMAL TEMPERATURES ARE FACTORS

Although Florida is known for its steamy weather, this year has been particularly hot. In April, southern Florida experienced June-like temperatures.

For example, Miami didn't have one day where temperatures dipped below average. More than half of the month featured daytime highs several degrees above average. This includes 14 days of record temperatures including a new all-time high of 97°F (36.11°C) for the month, set on April 20.

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As well as the heat, a widespread lack of rain across Florida has also contributed to the wildfires. To date, Orlando and West Palm Beach are lacking nearly 180 mm of rainfall on average in 2020. Daytona and Fort Myers have shortfalls hovering around 150 mm.

Thumbnail courtesy of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Source: CNN

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