Apr 29, 2017

Mixed signals

I remember this cloud well:

It seemed a clear sign the summer rains were about to begin.

Calm before the fire
April 29th 2011

Instead it brought lightning and put the swamp ablaze.

It was the year of our drought of record and the Jarhead Fire.

Moral of story: Never trust a cloud!

Apr 28, 2017

Deep and wide

Hard to believe that Deep Lake ...

Is ten times as deep as Lake Okeechobee.

Deep Lake
Current depth: 90 ft
Stage: 7.44 ft above sea level
Historic stage: around 11 ft (?)
Lake Okeechobee
Current depth: 11 ft
Stage: 11.5 ft above sea level
Historic stage: around 20-23 ft
Both are drained versions of their former glory.

Apr 27, 2017

How to: End a drought

Rainfall totals are in ...

For Water Year 2016!

Annual rainfall by water year
for Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve,
1970 to present

The wet season fell within the normal range (44 inches),

But the dry season came in at half its normal amount.

Monthly rainfall for
Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve
in inches

That combined with a very dry November and December (see above) ...

Has resulted in the water table's deep spring drydown.

It doesn't help that the swamp is cut off from our historic headwaters and crisscrossed by canals and levees that divert surface water away and drain ground water out.  Perfect rainfalls are few and far between and rarely fall in just the right place and just the right dose to save the day.

Note to self: let's start working together to help champion ways (i.e. projects) to help restore more self-sustaining swamp.

Apr 25, 2017

Water year explained

Each spring the water year
starts anew on May 1st

Side note: Whether we are starting the 2017 (or 2018) Water Year is debated among some in south Florida, but for me the answer is clear.  By merit of (1) the driver of the water cycle being the summer rains (i.e. May 2016 - October 2016) and (2) the majority (i.e. 8 of 12) of the months falling in 2016, we must name the dog for the dog and not it's 4 month (and rather rainless) January to April tail.

It is thus that May 1st marks the start of Water Year 2017.

Rainfall summary for Water Year 2016

The maps below show a rainfall summary ...

In inches for water year 2016.

Top right: Full year (May 2016 to April 2017)
Bottom left: Wet Season (May thru Oct)
Bottom right: Dry season (Nov thru Apr)

Apr 24, 2017

Brief reprieve

It's amazing how fast ...

Resurrection fern (foreground) responds to rain.

A wet swamp is a better swamp

As for filling up the dome (background),

That will take a regular onslaught of similar storms.

And longer and more than usual because the water table is so low.

Apr 23, 2017

Water cycle steps in

From one day to the next ...

The dome below (sort of) filled up.

But who's complaining?
Talk about a perfect rain!

But with the water table so low,

Don't expect it to last.

It'll take more than one storm to lift this swamp out of drought.


As suspected, dry

Apr 22, 2017

Just to double check

How deep is the drought?

Judging from this marl chip, seasonally dry at least.

A drought-dried marl chip

A better metric would be to walk into the dome.

Ideally in April it's peat would still be dry.

But why waste the time when I can see the answer right at my feet.

Drought exposed limestone
of the Tamiami Canal

Judging from the canal, the water table has dropped ...

To the point that most of the domes have gone dry.

I walked to the dome anyhow.

Apr 20, 2017

Looks can be deceiving

Looks lush down there ...

But don't mistake that with moist.

The dome is dry

The spring green out coincides with seasonal drought in the swamp.