Popcorn index
Salsa bowls run dry

It’s not quite as dry as popcorn yet …

But it’s getting there.

As show on the diagram above, you know it’s dry in the Big Cypress Swamp when the water table drops below ground surface in the center of a cypress dome. Or in other words, salsa dish is dry other than a thin film. That doesn’t mean the peat still isn’t moist — it is, or that alligator holes aren’t still holding water — they are. But in the next few weeks, we could be entering the “popcorn” dry mode as the water table continues to drop.

Backstory about the popcorn index, and how it became semi-official. About a decade ago we had a major wildfire in the swamp called the Mud Lake Complex. Our chief fire officer asked me to address the new team of fire fighters that were rotating in to get them oriented to the ecology of the swamp. I remember at the time being nervous, and not sure how to talk to such a large crowd without visual aids. The situation is complicated by the fact that fire fighters on any one incident are from all across the country. Thus it was my responsibility, in a 5-minute talk, to dial them into why such a green and lush swamp was so deceptively dry. Our chief fire officer couldn’t have been more clear, and gave me all the reassurance I needed: Use your corn chips and salsa analogy. And thus the popcorn index was born.

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