SFWJ: June 25 – July 1.
June rain totals are in
Rainfall. Miami-Dade led all other south Florida basins in rainfall for the month of June, with 13 inches of rain, chiming in at 4 inches over its long-term June average. It was a regular onslought of rain all month for the Miami area, with an exclamation point at the end with the wave that moved in off Hispanola. Miami is famous for its morning showers. They result from the early morning land-breeze that flows eastward toward the coast and the Trade Winds that flow westward off the Bermuda High, which collide head first right overtop the warmed and humid air of the coastal-hugging Gulf Stream waters. Those three conditions combine for a perfect recipe of stratosphering-scraping early morning showers. The additional tropical moisture was just icing on top of the cake.
Those mammoth clouds were visible all the way across the opposite end of the peninsula — 80 miles away — during my morning commute out of Naples traveling east-bound into Big Cypress National Preserve’s Ochopee headquarters. The height that those clouds soar out of the sawgrass plain is not unlike the Rockies rising out of the Great Plains or Kilimanjaro from the Serengeti — sadly, they are not climbable, but fortunately they are recyclable. That morning rain and moisture recirculates into the peninsula’s interior on the back of the morning land-breeze’s stronger afternoon twin — the sea breeze — which in turn fuels the formation of the new Kilimanjaro’s that rise out of the interior glades in the afternoon.
But Miami-Dade was the June rainfall story. Its 13 inches was the most June rainfall for Miami-Dade since over 14 inches fell in June 2005 and over 16 inches fell in June 1997. Not surprisingly, the rain didn’t fall evenly into the interior where it was needed most. Lake Okeechobee only receive 5.5 inches of rain for June, a full inch and a half below its long-term June average, and the Kissimmee Basin only received 5.6 inches of June rain, almost 2 inches below average. Interestingly, Southwest Florida area typically experiences south Florida’s wettest June, averaging slightly over 10 inches over the past 10 years, but the Naples and Ft Myers areas only received 7.2 inches for the month, whereas Collier Counties eastern outskirts in Big Cypress National Preserve received 9.5 inches.
Big Cypress: Big Cypress National Preserve ,Corkscrew and OK Slough . By the middle of June, preserve-wide stage had risen a full 2 feet above its late May low-water mark: first popping out of the shallow aquifer (and dashing out our May wildfires), then rising up to flood waters into the swamp forests, marshes, and tall cypress wetlands, and even rising high enough knock at the door of the preserve’s wet prairies; but the rains have slowed over the past two weeks and the wetting front has taken a step back, retreating back into the swamp forest and marsh wetlands. Preserve-wide stage is currently about a half-foot below our 5-year early July average, and at about the same level as early July of last year. That puts current water levels about 15 inches below our typical late-summer high-water mark (of late September). We’ve had enough June rain to start water flowing under the Tamiami Trail, currently at a rate of 500 cfs. That’s about 1500 cfs lower than its early July average, and still well below its 3000-4000 cfs rate at the late summer peek. These flows peak at around 3000-4000 cfs during the typical wet season.
Everglades: Everglades National Park ,WCA3,WCA12. In comparison, most of the gates in the Everglades are closed, including the S12s that feed water down into Everglades National Park. Last year, first flows through the S12s didn’t occur until late July. In 2005, the S12s were openned a month earlier, in late June, due to bumper crop of June rain that year. Over the past couple of years the S12s have started discharging water into the Park between early July and late August. We are just entering that window now. Despite all of the rain in Miami-Dade, the rise of Park water levels stalled in June. Current stage in Shark River Slough (at P33) is tracking 4 inches below the early July average, and is currently at the same level as early July of last year.
Up in Water Conservation Area 3A, regulatory stage is tracking an inch or two lower than early July of last year, and around a foot lower than the early July average. Despite that deficit, slough water depths in southern 3A never dropped below a foot depth (think mid shin), even during the heart of this year’s drought. Water is currently pooling around a half foot behind the S12s, and around 3 ft behind the S11s and S10s.
Lake O: Lake O ,Kissimmee . Lake stage dropped to a new historic low this past week (8.83 ft msl as of Sunday), beating the record it set earlier this June. Prior to January 2007, lake stage had hovered above (or just slightly below) 12 ft msl for an almost a 63 month consecutive streak starting in September 2001. Lake stage peaked just above 18 ft msl in mid October 2004 in wake of Hurricane Jeanne. In the 6 months since that +5 year span ended (in January 2007), lake stage hasn’t been above 12 ft msl. Of course the drought of 2000-2001 preceded that 5-year high-water streak, when lake levels similarly hovered at the low 9 ft range from May to July of 2001. It wasn’t until late July of 2001 that rains and Kissimmee inflows finally brought the lake back above 10 ft msl.
Since the start of the new millenium, lake levels have fluctuated widely: covering a 9 ft range from its high to low-water extremes. Numbers in that range to remember (in ft msl): 8.8 ft: historic low-water mark, 10 ft: elevation below which lake’s southern gates do not gravity feed, 13.5 ft: bottom elevation of lake’s interior-levee marshes, 15.5 ft: elevation above which lake’s interior-levee marshes are flooded, 17 ft: elevation above which levee integrity becomes jeoparidized, 20 ft: approximate elevation above which lake spilled over southern rim into the historic Everglades.