Miami’s Kilimanjaro

June takes dry turn, but tropical wave could boost totals:
June 18-24
http://www.fgcu.edu/bcw/hcu.htm (to view data)

RAINFALL. Barry got June rains off to an early start, and the first three weeks followed in that trend, averaging around 2 inches of rain per week District-wide, but last week was a step back in the dry direction. Less than an inch fell District-wide for the week ending on 6/24.

But hold everything! A tropical wave is out near Hispanolia and moving onshore from the East. It is predicted to bring rain across the region. That could make a very nice end-of-the-June soaker to bookend the early June rains from Barry.

Miami-Dade is leading all basins. Its recorded 10.7 inches so far this June, which is 2 inches above its long-term 8.7 inch June average, (and almost 4 inches more than the District-wide 7-inch June total to date). Miami-Dade has received almost 16 inches since the start of May. Look for the wave to add to that total.

The mammoth clouds rising over Miami have been visible in dramatic fashion during my morning commute out of Naples — that’s +80 miles away — 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 — only they are emphemeral features, and sadly, not climbable. Those clouds are the result of the night-time land breeze blowing winds toward the coast. Land breezes are usually weeker than their daytime counterpart, the sea breeze — but along the Miami Coast they play a very prominant role in the rainfall picture because they blow right into with warm Gulf Stream current that hugs the Miami coast. Those early morning land-breezes, striking head first into easterly flowing Trade Winds, right overtop the warmed air of the Gulf Stream waters is a ripe recipe for stratosphere-scraping early morning showers. The increased moisture from the tropical wave has no doubt added icing (and another layer) to the cake.

Add two new wrinkles to this year’s tropical storm season forecast. I’m definitely not an expert, but these two new developments highlight the complexity of variables that influence our tropical season outlook from year to year, and decade to decade. (1) First, the good news. The highly anticipated development of a La Nina has stalled. That should translate into a drop in this year’s storm severity. If you remember from last year, a mid-summer emergence of an El Nino similarly downgraded last year’s forecast. (No hurricane-strength storms made landfall in the continental US due to westerly sheer strength of upper atmospher El Nino winds). (2) Second, the bad news. Metoerologist are reporting the emergence of feature in the Western Pacific called the Madden-Juliam Oscillation (MJO). I’ve honestly never heard of this variable until today, but add it to the list. This phenomena causes a reversal of trade winds in tropical oceans that works its way around the globe at various time intervals. It could accentuate storm develop as the season progresses towards its peak. Its a wait-and-see as usual.

BIG CYPRESS. Preserve-wide stage is currently tracking about 6 inches below the 5-year late June average, and at about the same level as late June of last year. Preserve-wide, the wetting front has dropped down to the base of our tall cypress communities. This means that most swamp forests and marshes throughout the preserve are holding water, but tall cypress and prairies on average are still dry. Keep in mind that the preserve’s southern half south of US41 is the wettest, flooding into wet prairie and even into hydric pineland areas. The big development is that water has started to flow across the trail, currently at a rate of around 500 cfs. These flows peak at around 3000-4000 cfs during the typical wet season.

EVERGLADES:Everglades National Park ,WCA3 ,WCA1&2. Still no flow from the S12s. Water is pooling around a half foot behind the S12s, 2.75 ft behind the S11s and S10s. Regulatory stage in 3A is currently tracking around 10 inches below the 5-year late June average, and an inch or two below late June of last year. Slough water depth in southern 3A is still above 1 ft deep, so it never dropped below a 1-ft depth as it did in for over a month in May of 2001. So by that metric, this year’s drought has not been as severe at the 2001 event. This year’s low-water depths in Loxahatchee were very similar to the 3 previous years, and not as dry as 2001 when slough water depths dropped below a 1 ft depth as early as January, two months earlier than this year.

LAKE O. Lake stage has been below 10 ft msl for 2.5 months. That’s the elevation when forward pumps are needed to deliver water out of its southern structures. Lake stage has been below 9 ft msl since the beginning of June. That’s a departure from 2001 when Lake stage only briefly dropped to 9 ft msl (to 8.97 ft msl), but stayed in the low 9 ft range from mid May to mid July of 2001.

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