Lull within storm

Is this a lull within the Storm?
Rain Or Shine Report for September 24th
September has been a slow rainfall month.

Does that make this the lull before the storm?

Or could the storm be officially behind us? (After all, it is fall.)

The answer to both questions is a tentative “yes,” … depending on what you mean by “storm.”

If by “storm” you mean “wet season,” then I’d say that yes, this is a “lull within the storm.”

Wet season clouds are still among us, and looking ahead, we still have a couple weeks of “wet season” in front of us before the peninsular rain machine packs its bags for the winter.

Historically, south Florida’s “wet season” starts in mid to late May and ends in early to mid October. (see graph below.)

If by “storm” you mean Hurricane Season, that’s a tougher one to call.

The history books tell us that fifty percent of the hurricane-strength storms to make landfall in Florida happen in September and October, and if recent history is any guide: the string of tropical rain-makers in October 1999, Wilma’s late arrival in October 2005, and 1998’s early November surprise visit by Mitch – we’re still in the thick of things.

So “yes,” with the Tropics being relatively quiet in recent days, this is a lull “within,” and potentially “before” the storm.

However, if by “storm” you mean what I’ve had to drive through on my commute home from Ochopee to Naples the past two days,

Then the answer is a resounding “no.”

That wasn’t a lull!

That was a storm within the storm of a storm, to the point where I would have been better served by an airboat.

What I can say in complete confidence is that the first half of September has been a “lull.”

Here’s a closer look at the numbers.

Southwest Florida’s wet season has been punctuated by the one-two-three punch of pre-Cristobal, Fay, and Ike. Unlike Fay which covered pretty much the entire state of Florida, the no-name storm that later became Cristobal (once passing across the peninsula into the Atlantic) and Ike made isolated sideswipes to the southwest coast, leaving the rest of the south peninsula alone.

In fact, Ike still has our coastal structures flowing.

But even with Ike, and with the southwest coast leading all other basins, September has been a lull in comparison to the chart-topping August rains.

Southwest Florida leads all basins with around 7.5 inches of rain over the past 30 days, but only about 5 inches has fallen since the start of September. Compare that to Broward on the southeast coast that’s only received 3 inches over the past 30 days, and 2 inches since the start of September.

So, in summary, to answer the original question:

Is this a lull before the storm?

Let’s break it down:

Are we in a lull? Yes, and there’s no better proof than seeing that water levels have crested, even in the Big O … at least for now, with the caveat that a few inches down here and there doesn’t change the fact that we are still smack dab in the middle of peak water season.

Is this a lull within the wet season? Also a yes, although, if you take a quick glance at your calendar, you will see that we are just a few days away from October, the month of that the sea-breeze fed storms start to draw to a close.

Is this a lull within the hurricane season? Also a yes, but this is also the time of year when the Tropics switch gears back into the Caribbean and Gulf. And don’t forget that the tropical storms keep chugging along on their tracks into the first several weeks of the dry season.

And also remember 2005’s foray into the Greek alphabet. That’s an alphabet soup of potential rain makers depending on where they turn.

So, simply and succinctly, does that make this the lull before the storm?

You be the judge.

In my home state of Maryland we used to say that “if you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes … it’s bound to change.”

So of course – and it goes without saying – that any answers are subject to and can be easily proved wrong by the ever unpredictable vicissitudes of the weather.

Never under estimate or over predict the water cycle: it will always surprise you, even for those who watch it very closely.

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