This week’s big weather news is the batch of cold air that spilled across the Florida peninsula. Below freezing temperatures were recorded this morning in Atlanta (16° F), Tallahassee (25° F), and Orlando (32° F). The early-morning low at Naples Airport bottomed out just a notch above freezing, at 34° F. Compare that to Miami’s 39° F and Key West’s 45° F early morning lows.
Its not expected to last long – warm air is expected to funnel back in from the Atlantic by Friday — but its definitely been a strong one.
Last night was the coldest temperature recorded in Naples since February 2006, and the coldest January low we’ve seen since January 2003.
The coldest January on record?
For that you have to go all the way back to January 1981 when night-time lows in Naples dropped to or below 32° F on 4 separate nights.
But while January is Florida’s coldest month on average, such bitter cold snaps are relatively rare. Naples’ long-term January average shows day-time highs in the mid 70s and night-time lows in the low 50s.
Other Watershed News
I read in the newspapers that the La Nina has strengthened, thus increasing our chance for a more-rainless-than-usual dry season. That’s something we will have to keep close eye on. Last year south Florida averaged around 10 inches under its long-term yearly rainfall average. We’re on pace to match that deficit again this year.
Lake Okeechobee stage has been hovering slightly above 10 ft since early October. Lake stage has been below even the lowest of the lake’s interior-levee marshes (the ones at around 11 ft msl) for almost 10 months and below 13.5 ft wetlands for the past 20 months.
Loxahatchee wetland levels are back to normal, at just an inch or so above the 5-year early January average. Central slough water depths are around 1.5 ft deep, and over 4 ft of water is pooling behind the S10s.
Water Conservation Area 3 has received the least amount of rainfall of any other major basin in south Florida over the past 30 days, at under a half inch of rain. About 250 cfs is still flowing into WCA3 through the S11s. About 3 ft of water is pooling behind the S11s.
Further downstream, the S12s are all closed, with around 1.5 ft of water pooled on the upstream side. Slough water depths in southern 3A (at Site 65) are around 2 ft deep. Slough water depths north of I75 (at Site 63) are about a half foot deep in comparison.
Everglades National Park experienced its lowest Summer-Fall season, in terms of both water levels and upstream flows, since the drought years of 1989 and 1990. Water levels in central Shark River Slough are about an inch or two lower than early January of last year, and about 8 inches below the 5-year early January average.
The wetting front in Big Cypress National Preserve has dropped out of the wet prairies and retreated into to the taller cypress. Last year the wetting front didn’t drop into the cypress until mid January, and didn’t retreat out of the cypress into the deeper marshes and swamp forest until the end of February. This year’s dry season drop is moving along ahead of schedule in comparison to last year, and the long-term average.