Heavy rains fall on East Coast
SFL Weekly Watersheds Summary: Dec 11-17

RAINFALL. After weeks of pretty much no rain, we finally got our first serious dose of winter rainfall last week. The coastal stip of Palm Beach County, including Loxahatchee, led the way with close to 5 inches of rain. That’s equivalent to a very rainy wet season rain, so its really a notable total considering its now the dry season. The Big Cypress area received less than an inch in comparison, as did the southwest coast.

EVERGLADES. Loxahatchee regulatory stage jumped up over a half-foot from last weeks rain. A week ago, regulatory stage in Loxahatchee was tracking at a new 5-year low for December, but as of today it is now recording at the same height as the 5-year December average, at the same height as December of last year, and at the same height at the start of this year’s October 2 months ago. What a difference a storm can make. Down in Water Conservation Area 3, the S12s are now officially closed. Water depth in southern 3A is holding steady at about a 2.5 ft depth which means that the surface water wetting front is still up at the tree island landscape type. Northern 3A is holding steady at around a 0.5 ft depth, which means that surface water is retreating into the sloughs north of I75. Water depths in Loxahatchee are just below 2 ft deep, which means that both ridge and sloughs are flooded and that the surface water wetting front is up in the bayhead landscape type. Down in the Park, the surface water wetting front is retreating into the sloughs, but is still shallowly flooding above the ridge landscape type in central Shark River.

BIG CYPRESS. There was just enough rainfall in the preserve to hold surface water’s fairly steady for the past week. This should be a temporary repreive in the dry season recession unless we get more doses of dry season rain. Over the past 5 years, water levels have dropped about a half inch per week from late October to late March. Once water levels drop below the bottom of the swamp forest and marsh habitats in the late Spring (April and early May), the water level recession rate accelerates to over 2 inches per week until the summer rains start back up. We’ll see what happens this year.

LAKE O. Lake O stage is currently 4 feet lower than mid December of last year. Almost 2 inches of rain fell in the Upper Kissimmee last week, but less than a half an inch fell in the Lower Kissimmee and directly on the Lake, … so the rain storm that dumped so much water just to the east in Palm Beach County was a near miss for the lake.

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