Depending how you count, Florida has about 30 watersheds, not all of which are contained in the state. The Apalachicola River is the biggest in terms of Flow with headwaters reaching north of Atlanta. Other major watersheds include the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades, Suwannee River, St Johns River and the Big Cypress Swamp.

Florida’s Water
And how we organize it, but can we save them?

Mention the name Florida and people probably instinctively think “the sunshine state.” But is there a state where water is more abundant and more central to how we think of the place? And I’m not talking the Atlantic or Gulf coasts, although you can add those in too. I’m talking about Florida’s 30 major basins, 5 major water management districts, 4 national estuary programs and 3 major aquifer systems.

Florida’s 30 major basins (it might be 29)

Soggy State
It was a soggy year for the Sunshine State

Normally, May and November …

Are the the great state of Florida’s driest months.

Animated map of drought in south Florida

Except not this year.

The reason? Tropical Storm Eta walloped the state with rain in November. Meanwhile, Northern Florida has been wetter than normal thanks to ample spring rains from continental fronts. Most of those fronts didn’t make it to south Florida, but that didn’t offset the wetter than average spring north of the Lake.

Statewide drought levels currently, a month ago and a year ago

What’s ahead?

With the afternoon clouds starting to return to much of the state, the summer soggy season can’t be far away.

Florida wide drought level (red line) compared to the long-term average (dotted white line)

In summary, it’s been a pretty wet run for the Sunshine State.

Statewide rain
The case for more than one rain gage

What if all the raindrops were spread evenly

Across the entire state?

water clock

Animated rain comparison between all of Florida and just south Florida

Actually, it sort of is:

Every part of Florida averages plus or minus 50 inches of rain.

But there are regional differences, too.

South Florida gets the least amount of winter rain whereas the panhandle gets the biggest dose of springtime fronts. That gives the Suwannee District a bump of rain at the same time when south Florida is descending into its deepest drought. As for the driest time in all of Florida: The month is May. And the wettest? September is Florida’s typical highwater month.

Take home point:

As useful as a statewide average is, we highly recommend more than one rain gage.