May 22, 2020

"Stampeding" water cycle

South Florida is a land ...

Of meteorological extremes:

Wildfire and thunderstorm
as seen at the Lely horses
on successive weeks 

On both the dry and wet season sides,

The wildfires and storms are hard to control.


Did I say land of extremes?

I meant a water cycle that stampedes.

May 21, 2020

Drought-dug hole

The meteorologic wet season ...

May start like a "flip of a switch."

This year's water table touched down
as deep as it gets.  The only question now
is how long it will last.

But climbing out of such a deep drought ...

Usually takes a good couple weeks.


Saturation in the swamp lags behind the sky.

It's more like a "dimmer light."

May 20, 2020

Meteorologic "double vision?"

I saw an impressive cloud ...

Along Alligator Alley today.

Panorama looking east
down Alligator Alley from
the State Road 29 overpass

The Tamiami Trail ...

Greeted me with a similar view.

Panorama looking east
down Tamiami Trail
near Wootens

Actually, it was the same cloud.

May 19, 2020

How to: Measure drought

Drought severity in the swamp ...

Is typically measured by the depth of the water table.

Historic calendar
comparing this year's drought
to previous years

But just as important ...

Is the duration in terms of time.


Spring 2011 was our drought of record.

Deep drydown conditions persisted for three months straight.


This year, we're only at a month and a half.

May 18, 2020

"Canal-induced" rain?

There once was a theory on the Great Plains ...

About the "rain following the plow?"

On the banks
of the L28 Interceptor,
looking south

Then came the Dust Bowl.

The truth is that canals do not induce rain.


Rather, they drain water out of the swamp whenever it rains.

May 17, 2020

Three Jacks

You can't control everything ...

In a wildfire.



Here's how:


But you can hedge your bets ...

On making it home safely.


Nobody knew that better than Jack.

May 13, 2020

"Drought-fueled" flood?

Drought and flood are usually ...

Two opposite extremes.

The unusual flooding, as seen looking south
of the Tamiami Trail near Everglades City

Not this year:

Thanks in part to the depth of the drought ...


A strong south wind pushed a high tide high into what is normally freshwater marsh.

May 12, 2020

Saltwater invasion

Here's a hydrograph comparing three stations along the Tamiami Trail ...

In the area that we observed the unusual "wet season" like flooding in the coastal marsh south of Tamiami Trail in the Ten Thousand Islands area.

About the chart above: Notice how the two inland stations -- BCA8 (Turner River) and BCA7 (Turner River Canal) -- have steadily dropped throughout the dry season -- whereas the station at Bridge 71 (red dot and line) had an unusual rise during April that does not seem to correlate with any significant rainfall during the same period.

As for the source of the water:

If the strong south wind didn't already make it abundantly clear ...


A fish kill of talapia in in a pool at the southern end of Birdon Road left little doubt.

They are freshwater fish and cannot tolerate salt.

May 11, 2020

Troublesome canal

The slug of wind-blown saltwater ...

Didn't need canals (it was that strong).

From top to bottom, Top: Panorama of the confluence of Turner River Canal (left) and Tamiami Canal (middle) looking east at HPWilliams Park, Middle: the first of five culverts that feed water from the Turner River Canal (middle) to the Turner River, looking north, and Bottom: Halfway Creek looking north at the Tamiami Trail.  Can you see the boulders?  That was an old plug that washed out over time. 

But coastal-connected Halfway Creek Canal helped amplify the event.

May 10, 2020

Rapid reversal

We got our water ...

But from the wrong place.

Just a week prior to the flooding,
this marsh was cracked mud flat

We were hoping for rain from the sky.

May 9, 2020

Wagon "water" wheel

The bad news:

The canal is as dry as it gets.

Hopefully, rain and new culverts
will help the water to spread out

The good news is that drought relief is on the way.

May 8, 2020

Swamp ecosystem (made simple)

Somebody asked me to put together ...

A cross section for third graders.

During a normal spring,
the deepest spots still hold water,
or are at least soggy.

Not this spring.

I decided it was good for adults, too.