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Updated: 08/28/2014 08:00:02AM

Welcome to the Florida desert

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“I could really use some rain at my place,” a buddy said to me the other day. “It’s been almost a week, and my lawn is getting crispy.” We all complain about the rain sometimes. It’s disheartening to plan a fishing trip for your only day off only to have it scrubbed by thunderstorms. But the next time you find yourself cursing those dark clouds, take a moment to imagine Florida without the rain.

A desert Florida? That should be no surprise. In fact, it’s a little odd that it’s not. It’s a matter of latitude. We sit at about 30 degrees north of the equator. Most lands around the globe at this latitude are deserts. Look at Baja California, just a couple thousand miles to the west. Like Florida, it’s a narrow peninsula with ample water around it. But the climate is dry, averaging 10 to 15 inches of precipitation annually even in the parts that aren’t behind a mountain rain shadow. Compare that to here, where an average year’s rainfall is 45 to 60 inches. That water from the sky is the reason Port Charlotte doesn’t look like the outskirts of Phoenix.

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