May 26, 2015

Monthly Rain Chart

The chart above shows  monthly rain totals  for Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve from 2013 to present.  May 2015 isn't quite over yet, but with a week to go we're about 1.5 inches below the long-term May  median  of 4 inches of rain.  May is a shoulder rain season: it marks the end of the dry season and start of the wet season.  June, July, August and September are the swamps rainiest months.

May 24, 2015

Brief history of rain (over a wildfire)

The animated maps above show the history of  daily rainfall recorded in and around Big Cypress National Preserve since the start of the Mud Lake Complex wildfires.  The primary areas of  wildfire  are in the central and north central portion of the preserve.

May 22, 2015

Fighting fire with water

Skies  blacken  and downpour
over the Ellison Wildfire,

But was it enough to put it out?

Tables set for wet season start

Clear signs of summer are starting to emerge:

a. Empty tables at local cafe
b. Royal Poincianas are in bloom
c. Pouring down rain.

Looking towards 5th Avenue
in downtown Naples
Caveat: We're still waiting on the last one in the swamp.

May 21, 2015

Cool shade of fire tree

Needle-shedding cypress trees signal the winter dry season.

But does the start of the summer wet season have a similar botanical clue?

Royal Poincianas  bloom  in May

Turns out that there is, only you usually find it in town.

The Royal Poinciana tree unleashes a fiery display of flowers each year about mid May. Streets literally light up in their presence. But it’s a strange red luminescence in that it does not bring warmth, rather shade … a very deep and luxurious shade. All thanks to its copious canopy of outstretching branches and fern-like leaves.

And they shed in June with the start
of the summer rains

Rain drops and wind from the start of the rainy season soon to follow send these flame-like flowers to the ground one by one, or in clusters, on the blacktop and inevitably in puddles where when you see them you half expect to hear them sizzle:

Red hot flowers on rain cooled asphalt.

May 20, 2015

Memorial Day to the Rescue!

This chart provides a 7-day running rain total for Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve.  Can you see how the big rain day at the end of April was not enough to end the drought?  Ending the spring drought usually takes a steady sequence of summer rains.  They should start to become more regular as we near Memorial Day.

May 19, 2015

That other lake

With Mud Lake making all the news,

The swamp's most famous lake is easy to forget.

Scenic views of Deep Lake
Spring 2011

Last time I tried to measure it's depth I ran out of plumb line.

On the data sheet I just wrote "unknown."

May 18, 2015

Flood fighters?

Talk about all the right rain ...

In all the wrong places.

The map above provides an estimate of rainfall amounts (in inches) over the past week in south Florida.
The past week has treated the Naples coast to drenching summer like rains.  Puddles, wet pavement and full canals abound.  A couple times riding home it was raining so hard I considered stopping to wait. 

Meanwhile just to the east in the Big Cypress Swamp wildfires continue to burn.

It's been a challenge convincing neighbors we're fighting a fire and not a flood.

May 17, 2015

History of flash droughts

You never have a flash drought.

Dry spells are usually months in the making.

This historical chart highlights periods and levels of drought in Big Cypress National Preserve from 1992 to present.  The chart is also annotated with major wildfires.  Can you see how major wildfires generally coincide with the deepest descents into drought?

But wildfires can flash when the swamp descends into drought.

This spring that has happened again.

Time to add the Mud Lake Complex to the historical chart.

May 15, 2015

Desert-like swamp?

The swamp is misunderstood as perpetual corn chowder soup.

But come each spring water is not only hard to find ...

Red arrows indicate current parchedness levels in the wetland areas as shown on the maps up top. Notice how the Everglades are much wetter than the swamp

The swamp can get downright crunchy.

During usual springs we're left with a bowl of receding salsa surrounded by a platter of water-starved chips ... and then there are the late springs like this one that even the deep spots go dry.

Or dry as popcorn as we say.

May 12, 2015

Water retreats (again) to deepest holes

Dry as a tinderbox
except in the shallow plate-shaped
holes.  Can you see the