Jun 14, 2019

Down and out

By this time, the last three years ...

The wetting front was well up into the marl prairies.

Historical calendar of the wetting front
in Big Cypress National Preserve,
1991 to present

So far this June, the wetting front is still largely out of sight.

Jun 13, 2019

Swamp step stool

A step stool, not a ladder
is the height that separates

the high and low ground
in the swamp

Jun 12, 2019

Bottom rung (of the swamp ladder)

Admittedly, swamp stage is low ...

How much you may ask?

June is part "soaking in" season
and part "climbing the swamp ladder"

  • Over a foot lower than mid June of last year,
  • About foot and a half lower than the typical June level at the end of the month,
  • Not yet high enough to fill up the cypress domes.

But not to worry:

It's still early in the water year.

Jun 11, 2019

Swamp ladder?

The swamp is as big ...

As it is shallow.

Major swamp habitats
from low to high

Deep drought and peak flood ...

Are separated by just around four feet.

That makes the seasonal climb up the swamp ladder just "step stool" high.

Jun 10, 2019

Humidity season descends

You know it's hot in Naples ...

When nighttime temperatures stay in the 80s.

Calendar chart showing history of nighttime lows in Naples, FL.  Do you see the black dots?  They're the nights that it stayed in the 80s from dusk to dawn.  We had 16 of those last summer; none yet this summer so far.

Not that you notice it,

Because usually when it occurs you're asleep in the AC.

But you know it the next morning when you walk out the door.

No rain cloud to be dodged or reprieve in the shade,

South Florida's smothering humidity is hard to escape.

Jun 9, 2019

Hot and very hot

Granted, the American Southwest is hotter ...

As judged by its daytime highs.

This chart shows a Heat Index comparison
for Naples Florida and Phoenix Arizona
for the summer months, May-Sep

Whereas Florida is famous ...

For its sopping-wet humid nights.

But as for the heat index, they're about the same.

Seasonal oasis

By definition, an oasis is ...

"A fertile spot in a desert, where water is found."

Sky view of Oasis
looking northwest

Compare that to Oasis Visitor Center.

It's a refuge in the middle of a swamp surrounded by water on all sides.

Ground view of Oasis
from the parking lot

Or, at least that's usually the case;

First the summer rains have to return and fill it back up.

Until then, yes, it's a seasonal oasis in the middle of a desert-like swamp.

Jun 7, 2019

Florida's "meteorological" four horsemen

Can you hear the apocalyptic atmospheric stampede?

Not to worry -- the world is not coming to an end.  It's just the sound of one of Florida's four horsemen galloping across the sky.

Storms roll across the Florida peninsula
like a stampede of wild horses

Who exactly are the Four Horsemen you may ask?
  • The first is our old faithful of the summer: the Enhanced Sea Breeze. I’m not talking your any day old run of the mill sea breeze. This is the one that, with a little help of upper level atmospheric instability and a Gulf flyover of a deep dipping Jet Stream – two factors that puts extra wind behind the sails of the sea breeze, creates our gargantuan Kilimanjaros rising out of the Everglades and the famed morning showers offshore of Miami.
  • The second horseman is the Continental Front. The thunderous squadrons of clouds that they bring, often leaving cold air in their wake, are typically a dry season event. But they’re not unheard of in the early summer season. That’s what makes June such a critical rainfall month for south Florida. Lingering springtime instability up on the continent – both in the upper and lower atmosphere – juices the early part of the rainy season, from Memorial Day to Forth of July. Once July roles around, a more homogeneous air mass takes hold across the southern peninsula. Trade winds blowing due east off the Bermuda High become the prevailing wind pattern.
  • It’s the Bermuda High that paves the path for the third horseman, and the scariest: the Cape Verde. These are the mammoth hurricanes that spawn off the coast of Africa, and head west around the perimeter of the Bermuda High. This one packs the full punch – horizontal rains, instantaneous – if only momentary – sea level rise, and tree-toppling winds. And this is no sucker punch – it broadcasts its potential fury days in advance, but it keeps its exact landfall a secret until the day approaches, and I use the term “day” only in calendar sense, because once the Cape Verde stampedes to shore, it turns daylight into night, other than a brief glimpse of daylight at its eye. That’s its prelude to the second half of its 1-2 punch, more commonly known as its knock out blow.
  • The fourth horseman is the Tropical Tempest from the Gulf and from the Caribbean. Usually not as scary as the Cape Verde, they play a prominent role in the early and late part of the hurricane season. Don’t be overly concerned with the magnitude of these, because even a disorganized wave of tropical moisture can give us the coveted BRD – Big Rain Day, as coined by the District’s Meteorology team. In technical terms, that's a sFL-wide daily rainfall total of more than 1 inch. Geoff Shaughnessy tells me we need 6 BRDs to keep the annual water coffers filled.

You can hear and see them
coming from miles away

Florida’s four meteorological horsemen are each ominous in their own way, but after a long dry season their hooves, too, are music to water managers' ears.  Finally, aquifers and wetlands can start to refill.

But come high water the same horsemen are cause for concern.

That’s the thing about the four horsemen:

They are a wild breed.  Yes, you can tame the landscape upon which they roam with levees and canals only so much.  The horsemen in their full fury have a reputation of running roughshod over civilization's carefully laid plans.

In 1990 Lely Development Corporation commissioned
five 1 1/4 life sized running horses for the entrance to their luxury country club community in Naples, Florida.

But mostly the four horseman are fun to watch (and hear) from a distance.

Just be sure to take good cover when they run near!

Jun 5, 2019

Scenic pines

Spring fires bring summer flowers

On your mark, get set (... pause)

Well, June is here ...

So the wet season must have begun, right?

Rain chart showing the trifecta
of weekly, monthly and water year
rain totals for Big Cypress
National Preserve.

ot according the rain chart,

As shown above.

The typical rainfall range for June is between 7 and 11 inches.

So far we have under an inch.

And 42 inches of rain is our 6-month wet season average.

Currently we are at 5 inches.

I'm not saying the wet season won't start,

It just hasn't yet.

Jun 4, 2019

Alligator retreat

Along with the wetting front ...

Gators are also in retreat.

few steps
ahead and to
the left
By way of gator trails ...

To the swamp's deepest spots

Is an alligator hole,
water semi-guaranteed
Where there's still water to cool them down,

Under the shade of the alligator flag.