near Sumatra

The Apalachicola passes “near Sumatra” as it approaches its coastal finish line into Apalachicola Bay. By all accounts, that’s as pretty country as you’ll find in the Great State of Florida.

“Near Sumatra” is also one of the spots where the US Geological Survey measures the river flow … going back to 1928.

The graph above shows annual flow volume for the Apalachicola River “near Sumatra” from 1978 to present.

It could be fun to look at some of the older data on a later post. (Hydrologists call that “fun”).

The blue bars show full year flow volume, and the red bars show year-to-date discharge … not only for our current year (2008) but also for previous years over a similar January 1st to May 25th time span.

That’s a good way of comparing where the Apalachicola current year-to-date flow volumes to previous winter and springs.

A couple of things jump off the screen.

The first is that on average around 18 million acre feet pass under the bridge “near Sumatra” over the past 30 years.

But starting in 1998, the median flow volume appears closer to 11 million acre feet.

Why the drop off? I’m not sure. Maybe the earlier decades were just a wetter period. I’d have to take a closer look at the full historical record. (Hydrologist call that “fun”)

And look at this year so far.

At around 6 million acre feet for 2008 to date, that’s almost 1 million acre feet more than last year through May.

2003 and 2005 were a return to the wet years of the 1990s. By June 0f 2005, 11 million acre-feet had passed under the bridge “near Sumatra.”
That’s more than the full years for 2006 and 2007.
What’s the highest discharge year over the past 30 years?

That would be in the El Nino stoked 1998 year when +26 million acre feet discharged for the full year, and a whopping 19 million acres feet of that through May. South Floridians know all about that year.

The lowest is a near tie between 2000 and 2007.

As for 2008, the jury is still out. Critical summer months lie ahead. The short term answer is rain, but in the long term it will depend on making sure the Apalachicola “near Sumatra” gets its fair share of the ACF water pie.
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