Hydrologic persistence

Lake O moves into third place, but eyes possibility of 500 days below 11 ft

Rain Or Shine Report for Apr 22
Tagging something with “first” or “last” is always an attention grabber.

But what about a drop from “second” to “third”?

Most of your fair-weather Water Spectators have “tuned out” by then, and moved on to other events.

Come rain or come shine – as this column is called – I show up at every game – even when the score is pretty much settled, and the stands have all but cleared out: I’m that loyal fan in the upper deck faithfully scribbling in the box score.

Why so?

A craftsman does a job well for the sake of doing the job well – or at least the best of one’s ability. A famous quote by the President Calvin Coolidge was first presented to me long ago in my youth – by my guitar teacher – in an effort to ramp up my practice regimen between sessions; and though my practicing languished, the words and spirit of the quote have stuck with me over the years.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

Silent Cal spoke the truth.

Along those lines, here’s the hydrologic box score for the week . . .

Lake O unceremoniously dropped into a solid third place in terms of record-low Aprils on record. First place goes to 2001, followed by 2007 in second.

But by another metric however, Lake O marches on deeper in the history books. It recently passed its 400th day below the 11 ft mark.

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Is 500 possible?

The unequivocal answer is yes, it is possible.

The 500 day milestone would only put us into July. During the Lake’s last plunge in 2001, it didn’t rebound above 11 ft until early August. By October it was above 14 ft.

Down in Loxahatchee, the S10s are open again. This is the highest winter discharge through the S10s since 2003, and before that in winter 1998 when 2,000 cfs discharged through the S10s for several consecutive weeks.

In comparison, just downstream, this Spring’s discharge through the S11s has eclipsed even Spring 1998 discharge levels, and by a wide margin.

That’s a big surprise. The chart-topping El Nino of 1998 had all of south Florida awash in a Spring-time freshet of water reminiscent of the continental river basins. Lake stage topped 18 ft in February, March, and April of 1998.

When was the last Spring that so much flow discharged through the S11s?

You have to travel back in time 15 years to 1993; which incidentally is a year that really stands out for northeast WCA3. That’s the year that northern 3A, north of I75, never went dry.

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That’s a common occurrence for southern 3A, but in northern 3A those years are few and far in between. At their shallowest, slough water depths never dropped below 1.5 ft deep in Spring 1993, even during the heart of the dry down.

So why was 1993 such a high discharge year for the S11s, and why is this Spring’s S11 discharge greater than legendary 1998?

Simply stated: I don’t know.

I’ll have to hit the books a little more on both questions.

. . .

Regulatory stage in WCA3 is now a solid half foot higher than the 5-year mid April average, and a solid foot higher than mid April of last year, and you won’t believe this one:

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It’s the highest mid April regulatory stage in 3A since 1998.

Wow! Talk about a swing of events.
Down in the Park, slough water stage in Shark River Slough is back up to its 5-year mid April average. That’s about a foot shallower than average summer stage.

Stage over in Big Cypress National Preserve is over a foot higher than the 5-year April average. That puts the wetting front up above the cypress and into the wet prairies. And yes, you guessed it: this April’s water stage is higher than mid April 1998.

That doesn’t necessarily make them comparable: the wetting front flooded into the pinelands for 8-9 months from Summer 1997 to Spring 1998.

Compare that to only 2-3 months of similar flooding in this past Summer to Spring period.

Consider the hydrologic box score filled for today, but if there’s any more certainty in life than Death and Taxes, it’s that the wheels of south Florida’s water cycle will continue to turn – and in the process – churn out a pretty amazing hydrologic show.

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