Sub 70 degree weather chills south Florida
SFL Weekly Watersheds Summary: Jan 22-29

WEATHER. The warm spell that gripped most of December and January came to an end last week. We’ve entered our coldest 7-day stretch since the Thanksgiving cool down in the third week of November. Technically, that was still Autumn. So this has been our coldest 7-day stretch of weather this winter. You know that a frigid arctic cold front has descended in south Florida when day-time highs drop below 70 degrees, especially for couple consecutive days. That’s what happened Thanksgiving of this year. But since then we haven’t had 7 consecutive days with an average high under 70 degrees. But the winter’s still not over and we have a full 28 days of February in front of us. Last year’s coldest weather occurred in mid-February when the average weekly day-time high and night-time low fell to 65 and 43 degrees, respectively.

BIG CYPRESS. Preserve-wide stage is currently about 4 inches below the 5-year average for late January, and about 11 inches below early February of last year. Don’t forget that last year the Preserve was deluged with about 3 inches of rain from a single frontal storm in the beginning of February. It was pretty much our only rain of an otherwise rainless dry season. But it was enough to rewind water recession clock back to early December levels. This year we haven’t had such a storm, and this year’s end-of-January levels have already dropped down to the same level as they were in late March of last year.

EVERGLADES. Over the past 5 years, combined flows from the S12s come to a halt by early February. This year, flows through the S12s came to an end in early December, almost 2 months earlier than the 5-year average. Slough water depths in southern 3A (at Site 65) are currently around 27 inches deep, in comparison to depths of 7 inches in sloughs north of I75 (at Site 63). Slough water depths down in the Park are similarly under 10 inches in depth. Slough water depths in Loxahatchee are around 17 inches deep. Water is currently pooling up around 18 inches behind the S12s, 25 inches behind the S11s, and over 42 inches behind the S10s.

Lake O. The Lake and upstream Kissimmee Valley both received a little under 2 inches of December rainfall, which about matched the 10-year December rainfall average. That was enough rain to keep Lake stage steady just above 12 ft msl throughout the month of December. Lake stage resumed its steady dry-season recession in early January and a couple consecutive weeks of rainless weather. Lake stage is currently at around 11.7 ft msl (as of Monday). That places this year’s late January Lake stage at 0.8 ft higher than late January of the 2001 drought year, and about 3.5 ft higher than late January of last year. So this year’s lake level is low by historical standards, but the December rains boosted lake levels just enough for now to push it above the track of the severe drydown that unfolded in winter of 2001.

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