Apr 24, 2014

History of wildfires in the swamp

It isn't as dry as the spring of the Jarhead Fire (yet),

But that doesn't mean the swamp won't burn.

The calendar chart above displays the history of drought in Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve from 1991 to present.  The bigger (and warmer, i.e. oranges and reds) the data points, the higher the drought index.  The smaller blue and purple data points indicate times when the entire swamp is flooded, and thus wildfires are not a threat.  Green and yellow data points indicate times when both wet, moist and dry ground is present, thus serving to isolate fires when the start and preventing their spread.  Orange color coding indicate times when the water table drops below the ground surface virtually everywhere in the swamp.  The red color coding indicates times when water is so low that even the usually spongy (i.e. holding water) peat starts goes dry.  That's the most dangerous time for a wildfire to strike because fires can sweep across the swamp unimpeded by soggy spots.  Notice that this year is not as dry as the year of the Deep or Jarhead fires (yet), but also keep in mind that the traditional start of the wet season is still about four weeks away.  

Spring is wildfire season in south Florida.  In April and May it's not a matter of if, but when, how deep and for how long drought will strike.

A fire called Orange Blossom is burning in Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve now.

This key explains the color coding
used in the calendar chart above

Like hurricanes, wildfires are named.

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