Week of June 12-18, 2006
Lake Okeechobee continues to drop. Currently lake stage is 12.1 ft above sea level, which is about 1 foot lower than the 5-year average for late June and 3.5 feet lower than it was this time last year.
In the Water Conservation Areas, water levels have yet to rebound from their springtime lows. Last year this time Area 3A regulatory stage was 1.5 ft higher than it is now, Area 2 regulatory stage was over 2 ft higher than it is now, and Area 1 regulatory stage was about a half foot higher than it is now. Area 1 is currently flooded at the slough level. Area 2 is currently dry. Area 3A is flooded at the ridge/bayhead level in the south and at or below the slough level north of I75.
To the south, water levels in ENP at P33 are tracking closely to the 5-year average for this time of year. Most of the Shark River Slough sites seem to be holding water at the slough level.
Over in Big Cypress National Preserve, surface water is still mostly absent from the preserve. Current preserve-wide water levels are 1.5 ft lower than the 5-year average for late June, and 2 feet lower than they were this time last year. As an aggregate, water stage in the preserve is still a few inches below the bottom of the swamp forest habitat type. This means that water levels will still need to rise 0.5-1 ft before the sheetflow surface water regime is established.
This year’s slow start to the sheetflow season is reminiscent of similar slow starts to the wet season that occurred in 1998, 2000, and 2004; and contrasts the fast startup of the wet season that occurred last year.