Exactly how cold and wet has it been this winter?
That depends on what year you compare it to.
Winter water is all about hydroperiod …
Or in other words, how long the swamp’s major habitats stay wet.
Back during the “May 2008 to Apr 2009” water year, Tropical Storm Fay shot water levels to the top rung of the wetland ladder by mid August, but only a half year later – in March (i.e., this time last year) – water stage had already dropped below the ladder’s bottom rung:
Pond apple forests had gone dry …
And in the three months that followed went bone dry thanks to a rainless of rain free (and sun-searing) dry seasons.
Our most recent water year (May 2000 to Apr 2010) mustered only a middling wet season in comparison,
And by early November was scraping at the bottom of the fall-season hydrograph …
Until ample El Niño-inspired rains and cold-suppressed evapotranspiration buoyed swamp stage at the marl prairie level for the three months and running.
Compared to 1995, however, this winter has not been that wet …
Or as cold as you might expect.
November 1994 to October 1995 marks the swamp’s wettest 12-month span.
Pinelands stayed flooded for 8 of those 12 months, and even the middle “marl prairie” rung stayed almost continuously wet that entire year.
Swamp stage was finally worked itself down into the cypress by March 1996 ...
That's about 2-3 inches lower than where we're at now, in March 2010.
More on the cold tomorrow.