Southwest Florida sees bone dry conditions with little relief in sight

Just being outside you can feel how dry it is, and you can see it too. This is what fire officials say could be dangerous.

Thomas Piscione and his wife walk around an East Naples lake almost everyday.

“We’ve never seen this lake this low before,” Piscione said, “There’s such bad drought conditions now that the water level is well below where it should be.”

The lake is so low you can actually see the spawning holes fish create, which are usually under water.

It just shows how little rain we’ve gotten. Fire crews even say it’s currently the driest county in the state right now.

Andrew Marfongella, deputy fire marshall for North Collier Fire said, “When we’re in a drought, the ground is not as moist and not as wet as it normally is.”

Which makes it easier for fires to start and spread.

Last month, Naples got just over an inch of rain, slightly more than it saw last year and below the normal amount of two inches.

But North Collier Fire has a tool they can use when fires start – a drone.

Marfongella said you get a view 2,300 feet in the air. “[You] get a pretty good overall view of what the fire is doing and what you’re running into so the drones are excellent observation platforms for fire service.”

There isn’t a burn ban or any water restrictions in collier county—and leaders tell me there hasn’t been any talk of putting them in place. Fire crews are encouraging you to be extra careful though during this drought.

WATER CONSERVATION

In these bone dry conditions it’s not easy to keep your garden looking it’s best.

“The plants are dying, they’re just drying up, it’s tough,” said Tom Comella of Naples.

Comella loves to plant flowers outside his home, but has to fight nature, “The sun just pulls the moisture right out of the pots really quickly.”

And right now there’s little rain to help replenish the water.

Cindy Horrocks of William’s Magical Garden Center said, “We just kind of change our schedule as the dry season comes,” by super soaking their plants.

For homeowners, experts suggest watering your plants in the morning because there’s less evaporation at that time compared to full sunlight and the heat of the day.

Watering in the evening could leave your grass damp on the surface for long periods promoting fungus growth.

“If you haven’t planted your plants, get some more drought tolerant plants,” Horrocks said.

Right now there aren’t any water restrictions in place but there is a county irrigation ordinance you have to follow to save water, for example you can only run the irrigation on certain days and times.

WINK News checked with emergency management and they say there has been no talk of implementing a water restriction.

Year-round watering restriction days and times:

*Visit you local city municipality website for more local restrictions.

Fire Danger Index for May 1, 2018.
Reporter:Hannah Vogel
SHARE