Sep 3, 2015

Florida Groundhog Day

South Florida doesn't have a winter, therefore by definition it can't have a Groundhog Day?

Or is it just hiding in plain sight instead?

Is that a cloud ... or Giant Groundhog?

Groundhog Day on the continent is a celebration that celestial winter is half way done. By contrast in south Florida we are content to never let winter never end.

Our summer on the other hand is another story.

What continental transplant (me included) hasn't at some point during Florida's unending summer craved a little dose of fall air, especially come Labor Day when friends and relatives from "up state" and "off peninsula" are just beginning to rejoice in the first of many rounds of crisp autumnal air. Meanwhile down on the south peninsula we are left to sweat out another six weeks of Old Man Summer. It usually isn't until Mid October that finally (and at long last) a cold front blasts through.

In my mind that's what makes Labor Day South Florida's Groundhog Day equivalent.

Only south Florida's groundhog doesn't emerge from ground to look for his shadow: It appears as giant cloud (see photo above) ...

Casting a shadow on us instead.

The Meaning of Labor Day in Florida

Answer: See above

Sep 2, 2015

Big burden on "final" third

Chronologically the wet season has one full month to go.

Meteorologically, we're closer to half way there.

This bar chart displays south Florida wide rainfall from 1998 to present using major summer holidays to break the wet season into thirds.  Rainfall was below normal for the first and second thirds of this wet season.  That puts a large burden on the final third to produce (Super El Niño not withstanding).

September is the last full month of the wet season.

By wet season I mean the regular pattern of afternoon storms.

October starts off with that pattern,

But just a week or two in rainless skies usually prevail.

Our only hope after that are tropical events,

Or quite possible a Super El Niño, too.

Sep 1, 2015

"Duration of flooding"

The swamp has finally filled up ...

To a near normal range (although still a little low).

The hydrograph above shows the rise and fall of the water table in Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve from 2014 to present.  The dotted white line is the long term average.  Horizontal changes in colors represent various vegetation types. 

But hydrologically it's both depth and duration,

That are critical to the health of the swamp.

We're still two months behind in terms of "duration of flooding" clock.

Vital infrastructure

S-12A looking East

You don't the road without the canal,

You don't get flows without this gate

Leaving Shark Valley

Everglades Empty
(with one wet season
month left to go)

Aug 31, 2015

Elephant in room

Can you see the hidden tractor trailer?
(as seen at S-12A looking East)

Aug 30, 2015

Aug 29, 2015

Shark Valley Tram Tours

Looking East
(Believe it or not,
it was pouring in
the Big Cypress to
my West.

Aug 28, 2015

Reversal on way?

While I was in the neighborhood ...

I had to check.

Closed for business
(water's too low)

Open for business
(assuming Ericka
doesn't close it down)
The gate (S-12B) was closed and Shark Valley was open.

Those two could reverse if the storm bares down.

Aug 26, 2015

Water control blues

Structures sometimes get overly simplified:

As if getting them to flow is as easy as opening the gates.

In flat south Florida however, the headwater and tailwater pools don't always cooperate.  During times of flood (i.e. following tropical storms, etc.) gates become tailwater controlled.  Or in other words, you can open the gates but the other side is already full.

This year it's just the opposite:

The headwater pool is too low: there's no water to flow out.

When the "source" sinks

Don't blame the gates!

Even if they were open they wouldn't flow.

Stage in WCA3A is not just below the regulation schedule, it's showing its sloughs are only 0.5 feet deep.  Typically they are 2-3 feet deep this time of year.  WCA3A is the source for the water that flows (or in this case doesn't flow) through the S12 gates.

Stage in Water Conservation Area is that low.