Spring dumped so much rain on the U.S. that most of the country is drought-free for the first time in decades. But in parched Florida and Georgia, wildfires have destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and pastureland.
There’s no relief in immediate sight. “We are buckled up for a very long and very hot wildfire season,” said Adam Putnam, the commissioner of agriculture in Florida, the largest producer of orange juice behind Brazil.
The culprit is a high-pressure ridge that has stubbornly hovered since late last year over the region, pushing storms away. Interestingly enough, it’s the same atmospheric system that can steer hurricanes into the southeastern U.S., and if it doesn’t spin far out over the Atlantic this summer, it’ll be in position to catch a tempest and fling it toward land.
But for now, all that’s certain is that the system has put much of Florida and Georgia in stark contrast to the rest of the continental U.S.: This April was the second wettest in the 123-year-old record, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina.