Or Shine

Rain or Shine Report for Dec 4
Hurricane season in books, weakest since 1977
Global oil demand fills Lake O over course of year
Hoover’s Lake O versus Bufords Lake L

The end of November marked the official end of the Atlantic hurricane season.

The season generated 14 named storms. That’s 4 above the long-term average.

But I read in the NY Times that by a more sophisticated metric that calculates the cumulative wind energy of the season, the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season generated the least amount of wind energy since 1977.

So its just not number of storms that make a hurricane season — its also where they land and how much wind energy they generate as well.

November rain totals are in.

The Martin-St Lucie Basin led the way with 1.7 inches of November rain and the West EAA Basin was the caboose with only 0.4 inches.

The South-Florida-wide November average was 0.75 inches. That only filled the November cup a third full. (The 10-year average for November is 2.4 inches).

Suffice it to say the Dry Season has started ticking. That puts us a month into a six month downhill race to the nadir of the Dry Season. A few good rains from a front or two can slow down the speed of the descent.

Going back a full 365 days, Miami-Dade is leading the way with 64 inches. Compare that to only 40 inches on the other coast (Naples and Miami) and to 31 inches over the Lake over the same period. Big Cypress National Preserve recorded 47 inches in comparison.

It appears that Lake Okeechobee has crested for the year — at 10.4 ft msl. Current stage is a few inches lower.

That makes it the first consecutive Summer and Fall that Lake stage did not inundate the lowest lying wetlands — the ones at around 11 ft msl. Lake stage has been below 11 ft for almost 9 consecutive months — since March 2007.

Lake stage has been below its highest perched wetlands — the ones at around 15 ft msl — since March 2006 — for almost 21 consecutive months.

How big is the Lake?

Did you know that the current volume of water in the lake — 2 million acre feet — is equivalent to half a year of the worlds current 85 million barrels per day of oil consumption. Added up for an entire year the 85 million barrels of oil equals around 4 million acre feet of oil. That would fill Lake Okeechobee from bottom to the 15 ft msl level in a one year period, year after year, after year.

That’s assuming world oil consumption has peaked at 85 million barrels per day, if you’re a peak theorist.

So, next time your in the vicinity of the Lake, take a look over the levee. In this era of escalating concern over global warming, its a powerful and eye openning way to contemplate an otherwise abstract number of world oil consumption. Russia and Saudi Arabia produce about a quarter of the total.

Who would have thought Lake Okeechobee would be such a convenient measuring cup!

At its brim — at a little over 17 ft msl — Lake Okeechobee holds about 5 million acre feet of water.

Here’s some more Lake Okeechobee recipes.
>Add 900 full cups of Lake Okeechobee to form the annual flow volume of the Amazon River.
>Add 203 Lake Okeechobees to form the annual flow volume of the Congo River.
>Add 90 Lake Okeechobees to form the annual flow volume for the Mississippee.
>And 4 Lake Okeechobees for the Apalachicola annual flow volume.

Of course you’ll have to more than double recipe at the Lake’s current level.

Loxahatchee is touching down on a two-month consecutive run at a new 5-year high water mark. Loxahatchee stage is still about 4 inches above the 5-year average for early December.

In comparison, regulatory stage in WCA2 is tracking right along the 5-year average for early December.

The rest of the watersheds are below the 5-year average for early December. By how much? WCA3 is 3 inches below, the Park’s Shark River Slough is around 6-8 inches below, Big Cypress National Preserve is 2 inches below, and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is around 6 inches below.

That takes us back up to the Lake. Its around 5 ft below its 5-year average for early December.

Here’s a peak back in time to 1990 comparing Lake Okeechobee’s stage to Apalachicola’s upstream Lake Lanier — also at a record low. Current Lake Lanier stage is 1051 ft msl — that’s over 5 ft below where it bottomed out during the nadir of the 2001 drought.

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