Late March Update
Spring drought season begins

Not that there’s a major test tomorrow …

But the cheatsheets have been updated.

March is peak tourist season in the swamp and also the start of the spring drought season, as seen at H.P Williams Wayside Park near Turner River

That means if a colleague asks you a question about where the water is at, you can quickly refer to these sheets and present yourself as an expert, or hone the expertise you already have. So, what’s the latest? The big story is this: South Florida is at the front door of its two-month spring drought period. The Big Cypress is especially prone to drought because, unlike the Everglades that has a higher proportion of low-lying sloughs, the water table tends to drop deeper and longer below the cypress tree roots. Here’s a comparison of drought levels in the Everglades and Big Cypress.

Rainfall: Did you know that Water Year 2022 is entering it’s final month? In south Florida, the water year runs from May 1st to April 30th. With a month to go, South Florida wide rainfall has nudged up into the “normal range” of 43 to 51 inches per year. South Florida is predictably drier than central Florida, and especially the panhandle which is sopping wet.

Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades: Okay, this is where it starts getting complicated. Why? Pumps, gates, regulation schedules. Do I need to say anymore? Fortunately, the cheatsheets are here to help you navigate it. In a nutshell, the Kissimmee got some rain, as indicated by releases from the headwaters near Lake Toho. Further down in Lake Okeechobee, water levels are tracking at the long-time (i.e. 25-year) year normal for late March. Water releases through the S-79 have been steady at around 2,000 cfs, which is in the preferred estuarine window as defined by Bob Chamberlain. Further down in the Everglades, water levels are highest in Everglades National Park, and also above average in Water Conservation Areas 1 and 2, but below normal for this year in Water Conservation Area 3A.

In sum, people always ask me: “Bob, is there a single index well we can monitor to tell use everything we need to know?” Answer: Unfortunately not. The good news is there are the cheatsheets.

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