Mar 24, 2017

"Empty salsa bowl" transition

Yes we just got some rain ...

But don't count on it to last.

Chart showing metaphorical
relationship between  water levels  and
 surficial dryness  in the swamp

Those pools of water in the cypress domes (i.e. think a bowl of salsa surrounded by a tray of dry marl prairie chips) have pretty much gone dry.

That puts us in the dry as popcorn zone.

Not a good place to be with a month and a half of dry season still to go.

A foot below normal

While the rest of the Everglades is basking in water ...

The Big Cypress is turning into a tinderbox.

Graph comparing drought levels in the Big Cypress National Preserve to various parts of the Everglades.  The red arrows show current conditions, the dark arrows a month ago, the light arrows the same time this year, and the dotted line the long-term normal for late March. 

Sloughs in the Everglades are still a foot deep in many areas whereas the low lying cypress domes in the swamp have all but gone dry.

Current water levels in the swamp are a foot below normal late March levels.

Mar 23, 2017

Winter that wasn't

Suffice it to say ...

I didn't wear my scarf much this winter.

This chart shows a history  sub-70° F days  in Naples Florida, 1970 to present.

n total, about five days.

The long-term average is eighteen.

BTW: Just washed and packed my scarf away the other day (it's my only winter apparel item).

Mar 21, 2017

Warm winter (but not the warmest)

Usually we count the number of cold days ...

We get each winter.

This chart shows the percentage of days winter days (i.e. Dec-Feb) in which daytime temperatures in Naples rose at or above 80 degrees.  Can you see the cold spell from a couple years back and the warm run of winters in the early 70s?

This winter was just the opposite:

It was the warm days, not the cool nights, that were adding up.

In total, Naples had fifty four days rise to or above 80 degrees between the three core months of winter, or around 60 percent of the days, The long-term average is forty such days.

Mar 17, 2017

Long-awaited weekend

I'm always happy to see Fridays come around.

Especially this week.

Self portrait

After a hard-working week, I'm really zonked. 

Mar 15, 2017

Wild gator

This gator lives five miles from the closest road.

That probably makes me the first person its ever seen.

Semi-drought proof: alligators can
wallow out their own deep spot
Sort of looks that way anyhow.

Mar 12, 2017

Swamp's spring paradox

Getting greener ...

And getting drier (as a result of it getting greener.)

Up north on the continent, the spring
 green out  usually coincides with
a wet weather spring

That's a paradox peculiar to the swamp.

Mar 9, 2017

Lowering (but not lowest ... yet)

Water in the swamp has dropped about two feet ...

From its summer peak (up in the pinelands.)

Water levels have dropped steadily this winter and spring, but we are still a foot higher than what I classify as deep drought.  As you can see on the photographic backdrop on the above graph, water is increasingly receding into the deepest holes, i.e. dry season refugia.

But don't be fooled:

The preserve isn't in deep drought yet.

Emphasis on yet!

The dry season is only now warming up (still has a good dozen weeks left.)

Mar 8, 2017

Tilting of the (drought) scale

Let me tell ya:

It's dry out there ...

This chart provides a summary of drought conditions across the Everglades and Big Cypress using the popcorn scale.  The red arrows indicates current levels, the dark gray arrows a month ago, and the light gray arrows a year ago today.  The dotted line shows the long-time normal level for early March.

But there's still a lot of time for it to get a lot drier.

Big Cypress National Preserve is in what I call "tortilla chips surrounded by rapidly receding bowl of salsa" mode.  That means that the deep areas in the middle of the domes, strands and marshes are still flooded, but increasingly its dry everywhere else.  Normally this time of year we'd have about a foot of water in the center of the domes.  This year it's closer to a few inches.  A year ago today it was almost 2 feet (i.e. remember the Super El NiƱo?).

In comparison, the Everglades are holding more water (and deeper) than the adjacent and higher perched swamp.

As shown above, most areas of the glades are about a foot deep.

Mar 7, 2017

Crunchy marl prairie

The once soggy periphyton mat has transformed ...

Into a bed of dry marl chips.

Marl chip in foreground,
 greening out  cypress dome behind

The good news is that the lowest spots are still wet.

Although that dome in back is dry.

Smaller domes close to the road
have now gone  dry 

Here's the view from inside the dome looking out into the prairie.

Mar 6, 2017

Early summer shower?

Try a wildfire instead ...

Burning about ten miles outside of town.

Where there's smoke there's fire

Plus a strong east wind.

As a result this two-mile section of road was closed down ...

Not due to fire but because of smoke!