October remains dry
SFL Weekly Watersheds Summary: Oct 16 – 22

WEB SITE UPDATED. If you haven’t noticed already, I’ve gone ahead and changed the web page design a bit. The main page displays 6 watershed-themed icons. Just click on the “watershed budgets” icon to view the graphical watershed summaries for various parts of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades Basin. Additionally, you can click on the “rain cloud” icon to view historic summaries of rainfall in the KOE Basin. This allows you to compare basin-by-basin rainfall for the previous month, wet season, years, or decades; all right at your fingertips to keep you as watershed informed as possible. Special thanks to Eric Swartz and Geoff Shaughnessy on the SFWMD meteorology team over in West Palm Beach for collaborating to make this rainfall data available.

BIG CYPRESS NP. Preserve-wide water levels continue to steadily decline due to the almost complete absence of rainfall in October. Preserve-wide, we’re down about 0.5 ft from this year’s high-water mark in mid September. If October is a hit-or-miss rainfall month, this year has been a miss. This October’s monthly rainfall total so far (0.2 inches) will mark a new 10-year low for the month of October. The next lowest October in recent memory was in 2003 (1.1 inches) and 1997 (0.8 inches). Last year’s October was a “hit” (7.7 inches), and so was October of 1999 (9.7 inches). The 10-year average rainfall amount for October in the Big Cypress is 4.7 inches. Flows under US41 are also tracking at a new 5-year low for the month of October. As little as 30 days ago flows under the preserve’s stretch of US41 were tracking at a 5-year high of 4,000 cfs, … but a month later they are now tracking at just under 1000 cfs. What a differennce a month makes.

LAKE O. Lake stage has dropped below 13 ft msl. This places the lake 4 ft lower than last year’s post-Wilma high-water mark. You’ll also notice that some minor strucural releases occurred from the S77 (Caloosahatchee), S354 (Miami Canal), S351 (Hillsboro and New River), S352 (WPB), and S308 (St Lucie) this week; for combined structural release of around 2000 cfs for the week. Inflows to the lake have dropped down to near zero as a result of the lack of rain in the upstream Kissimmee basin. The Upper and Lower Kissimmee have both registered under 25 inches of rainfall this wet season, since May. That’s very low compared to the 41 inches in the Big Cypress and 38 inches in Miami-Dade over the same time period.

EVERGLADES. Water is pooling over 3.5 ft behind the S10s and around 1.8 ft behind the S11s now that the gates are closed. To put those numbers in perspective with the rest of the system, that means that the S10 gates are currently backing water up about 4 ft higher than the current stage of Lake O, and that the S11 gates are holding water in WCA 2 at about the same stage as the Lake O. The S12s are still open. They are currently flowing at a combined rate of just under 2000 cfs. That’s about 1000 cfs below the S12s mid-October average for the past 5 years. Water is also flowing into the NE Shark River Slough portion of the Park at around 800 cfs. Wetland water depth in southern 3A is currently around 3 ft deep, having crested in late September at a 3.3 ft depth. Wetland water depth down in the Park at P33 is currently tracking 2 ft lower at around 1.3 ft deep.

(1) that you can also “click” to the historic rainfall summaries directly from the 1-page graphical watershed summaries …. just click on the weekly raindrop graphs on the top lefthand side of the page.

(2) that you can view the full period of record at many of the stations and structures by clicking on them. The historic data is displayed in a special type of graph called a calendar graph that allows one to view past year’s and months easily at a glance without digging too deeply into the number sets.

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