January is the driest of the dry season months
SFL Weekly Watersheds Summary: Jan 8-14

WEATHER. Its been relatively rainless in January, so surface waters which were briefly boueyed by rains in December have recommenced their downward journey to the bottom of the dry season, which will presumably occur sometime in May depending on when the summer rains get started. So far we’ve tallied 0.04 inches of rain this January in the Big Cypress. The 10-year January high for Big Cypress NP occurred in 2003 when 3.1 inches of rain fell for the month. The 10-year January low occurred in January 2005 (0.4 inches). Backtracking a bit, we all know that the dry season months (from November through April) are dry compared to the summer. But exactly how dry are they compared to each other. The month of January scores lowest on the dry-season rainfall totem pole for Big Cypress NP, with only a 1.4 inch average over the past 10 years. Tied for 2nd to last are December and February, which both have averaged 1.8 inches of rain over the past 10 years. April is next with a 2.2 inch average. November has averaged 2.4 inches of rain over the past 10 years, but that factors in the 9.2 inch dumping from the poorly organized remnants of Hurricane Mitch that passed over the southern peninsula in early November of 1998. March ranks as the wettest dry-season rainfall month, averaging 2.7 inches of rain over the past 10 Marches. To put all those number in comparison, the core summer wet season months of June through September have averaged 9.1 inches per month over the past 10 years, with the transition months between the wet and dry season (May and October) both averaging around 4 inches.

BIG CYPRESS. Preserve-wide surface water levels have snuck back down to coincide with the low-water mark for the past 5 Januaries. The wetting front has now dropped well into the tall cypress landscape type. That means that wet prairies have largely gone dry, but that swamp forest and marsh habitats are still holding a solid half-foot of water.

EVERGLADES. Regulatory stage in WCA 3 has dropped a solid third of a foot below 5-year January low-water mark. There’s still 2.5 feet of standing water in southern 3A at Site 65. Midway upstream 3A at the halfway point between US41 and I75, water depths are under 2 ft deep. North of I75 water depths are below a foot which means that the wetting front is midway down the ridge landscape type, and that the sloughs are still fully flooded in that area with around 0.8 ft of standing water depth. Water is currently pooling around 1.8 ft behind the S12s, just over 2 ft behind the S11s, and over 3.5 ft behind the S10s. Down in the Park, water levels in Shark River Slough at P33 are also tracking at their 5-year low-water mark for January, which places water stage there about a third of a foot below the 5-year January average and two-thirds of a foot below last year’s mid January stage.

LAKE O. Lake stage has finally started to migrate downward again after holding steady for the past 5 weeks. Current lake stage is just below 12 ft msl, which is around 3 ft lower than the 5-year January average, and also around 3 ft lower than mid-January of last year. Minor discharges continue from the Lake at S77 and downstream at the S79 WP Franklin structure to keep saltwater intrusion at bay in the lower Caloosahatchee.

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