Drought flood drought

The cycle never ends

Rain Or Shine Report for October 15th
Miami’s rainfall total in October, only half way through the month, has already matched September’s full month total.

But that’s not so much from a wet October, per say …

September was just really dry.

Even more paradoxical, Miami’s “wet season” total since May is roughly 10 inches below last years “wet season” total.

Again, that’s not because this year has been a dry “wet season” – it’s actually right at the 5-year 40 inch average … but because last year was so wet.

Last year, for the full 12-month period from May 2007 to May 2008, Miami recorded 65 inches of rain.

That’s a lot of rain (even by Miami standards), chiming in at 10 inches more than the 5-year average and making it the biggest annual rainfall since a couple +70 inch years in the mid 1990s (1994, 1995, and 1997).

But wasn’t 2007 a drought year, and more correctly stated: The Drought of the Century?

And conversely, hasn’t summer of 2008 been billed as a return to drenchingly wet summer?

The answer to both is yes … prefaced by an acknowledgment that the water cycle is never uniform in all places, especially for a hydrologically hyperactive south Florida peninsula.

The big hydrologic stories this summer have been the Lake’s August rise and the September rise of water in the central Everglades.

Here’s a quick overview for those areas.

Flows from the Kissimmee into the Lake have dropped down to just a few hundred cubic feet per second.

That’s a big change from the first few weeks following Fay. So far this year, the Kissimmee has discharged around 1 million acre feet into the Lake, or about 25 percent of the 4 million acre feet it is currently holding.

Lake stage pretty much held steady for the entire month of September, at right around 15 ft above sea level.

So far this year, around 300,000 acre feet has discharged out of the Lake down into the Caloosahatchee. This year’s total through 9 months is small compared to 1983, 1995, 1998, and 2005, which were 5 times the current year’s total through 9 months.

Down in the central Everglades, slough water depths on the north side of the Tamiami Trail are measuring just over 4 feet deep. That makes that area a shallow sea, not a seasonally flooded wetland, but this sea has no archipelos: all the tree islands are flooded.

And all the S12s are open: that’s put high water to the south in downstream Everglades National Park as well. Even the entrance road into the Park’s Shark Valley tram and viewing tower went under water.

The good news is the waters appear to have crested. That wasn’t the case with 1999 or 1995 when those waters didn’t crest until late October and early November.

That leads us to Loxahatchee.

Bountiful rains in early October has filled its central southern sloughs with 2.5 ft of water.

That’s a half foot higher than the October average, and around three-quarters of a foot higher than just a few weeks ago in September … and also pushes the wetting front up into the tree islands.

The last time Loxahatchee has been this high … going all the way back to 2000 (and you won’t believe your eyes on this one) … was last summer!

Wait a minute?

Wasn’t summer of 2007 supposed to be a drought year?

Yes, but the “rain shadow” cast its sunny spell primarily on southwest Florida, Lake Okeechobee, and the Kissimmee: Loxahatchee and Miami were rainy and wet.

With that being said, no matter where you are in south Florida, look no farther than one month ahead into November for the start of another drought – our seasonal one.

We call it the dry season.

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