May 25, 2019

World's smallest post office

It may not look like much ...

At least at first glance.

It may look small ...

ut who could deny that it doesn't rank high ...

On the list of the swamp's most popular tourist stops.

But it gets a lot of visitors!

Saw an alligator, check.

Took a photo in front of the world's smallest post office, check.

Okay, now what's next?

May 24, 2019

Slow start (out of the gate?)

The last two years ...

The water table rose fast out of the "wet season" gate.

Historical calendar of daily rainfall, from 1992 to present.  BRDs are shown as big rain drops and scaled according to the size of the event. Also shown are Intermediate Rain Days (IRDs), i.e. the smaller blue circles, and No Rain Days (NRDs). NRDs are any day in which an average of under 0.05 inches of rain fell across all of south Florida.  Not surprisingly, NRDs are the norm during the winter and spring dry season and IRDs are the norm during the summer.  BRDs are rare in comparison (but are game changers when they strike). Can you see the BRDs in June 2017 and May 2018 that got those years off to a fast start?  

This year it's taking its time.

The reason?

Blame it on the lack of an "official" Big Rain Day.

Okay, I'll admit: They are not official.

But they do fill up the swamp fast!

May 23, 2019

Still in retreat?

We always knew sheet flow was slow ...

At peak summer speed, it clocks in about as fast as I walk.

Swamp stage
often bottoms out in
late May

Then there's the issue of the water table's slow start.

Despite summer clouds cropping up ...

As of late May, the wetting front is still in retreat.

(As shown below.)

May 22, 2019

Swamp made simple

Yes, it's hot and muggy ...

And yes storm clouds are starting to pop up.

Diagram of a simple swamp cross section
showing current stage relative to a month ago,
a year ago today, and the long term normal
for late May

But that doesn't make the swamp "instantly" fill up.

Climbing up the swamp ladder to to "high in the pines" usually takes time.

And yes, also a lot of (big and steady) rain.

May 21, 2019

"Soaking in" season

The term "wet season" is a meteorological term ...

Referring to south Florida's summer "rainy half."

Bar chart showing combined May and June rainfall from 1990 to present.  The long-term average is 13 inches.  Last year we got 16 inches of rain, most of it in May, and the year before that 25 inches, the majority of that in June.

But before the sheet flow can spread out far and wide.

The swamp sponge needs to fill up.

That's where May and June rains come in.

May 20, 2019

Deepest "lake?"

By most metrics,

Deep Lake should be called a pond.

Deep Lake drops
down 90 feet

Consider that it's only 300 feet across.

And it's circumference is 300 feet less a quarter mile.

Case closed?

Well, maybe not.

Also consider, not only is not surrounded by a levee ....

It's five times deeper than Lake Okeechobee at its deepest spot!

May 19, 2019

Sign in the trees?

I knew I wasn't lost.

As for the turkey vultures ...

Can you see the turkey vultures?

They weren't so sure.

And they gave me pause to think:

How about now?

Did they know something I didn't?

That's when I knew it was time to head back.

May 17, 2019

How to: Not get lost

First thing you do ...

Is look for the moss on the north side of the tree.

As seen in the center
of a cypress dome
earlier in April

Or in this case, lichen as it were.

And for the record, I already knew my way out.

That helped the most.

Lake o' decades

Lake level doesn't just change year to year ...

There are also clear decadal trends.

Animated hydrograph showing decadal
trends in Lake O stage

The 1990s was the "high water" decade.

And the 2000s was a decade of "drought."

Not sure what to call our current decade.

Maybe the decade of "levee repair."

May 16, 2019

To climb a levee

Some people aspire to ...

Hike Lake Okeechobee's entire perimeter levee, 143-miles long.

Nearing the top

Looking to the west

I made it!

Looking back down
to the south
I was happy to make it to the top.

Forty feet high!

May 15, 2019

Lake level under debate

The last time Lake O was this low (in May 2017) ...

Just four short months (Oct 2017) it rose a whopping 6 feet.

Lake stage over the past two years
relative to major ecological, operational
and statistical thresholds.  

Lake stage is currently about 2 feet below normal for Mid May ...

And 2 feet above its record low.

A historical view of Lake
stage from 1970 to present
using the same color code
as the above hydrograph

In sum, the Lake goes up and down,

As predicated by nature and operations of levees, gates, pumps and canals.

Currently its operation is under review ...

By way of the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).

May 14, 2019

Levees at work

What might look like "just a canal,"

Also has a double levee, one on both banks.

View of Alligator Alley
and the L-28 Interceptor
looking south

This feature has historically funneled water down the side ...

Instead of letting it loose in the middle of the swamp.

View of Upper Wagon Wheel Road
looking West, June 2017

Then there's the case of the three-mile levee ...

That pools water to the north.

Levees at work, boxing out the swamp.