Dual Calendar?
Julian vs Water Year

A year older, a year wetter

Normal people turn the calendar to a new year on January 1st. Not hydrologists — not even close. And rightly so. January falls in the middle of south Florida’s winter dry season. Starting the year anew in January splits the dry season in half — a big no-no if you’re trying to tabulate dry season rainfall and full year water amounts. The solution? Enter the water year. Up north on the continent the water year starts on October 1st (long story). The short story is that south Florida’s water starts anew May 1st each year on May 1st. Don’t expect a big parade or a big summer storms to magically start on cue on the first of the month. And to be certain, the first few weeks of May are usually dry. But make no mistake: It’s also the month that the humidity hammer drops and summer rain clouds start to emerge, even if it’s sporadic at first and usually doesn’t start in earnest towards the latter Memorial Day half.

The upside, and why hydrologists like me are adamant on this point: Starting the water year on May 1st allows us to split the year into two equal 6-month wet and dry seasons.

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