Welcome to Fall

Where Go Hydrology celebrates Florida’s favorite season

ecology

Multitudes of green
Swamp mosaic starts to pop

How do you best describe …

Every shade of green on the swamp?

The cypress will turn brown then gray in the weeks ahead

The term is called the swamp mosaic. Bright green are slash pine and palmetto. Dark green is a hardwood hammock. Brownish green are senescing cypress. It’s a bit of an optical illusion looking at the photo above. The highest ground is actually the hardwood hammock, even though it looks recessed. And the lowest ground is the cypress strand despite its appearance that it is higher up. Actually, I take that back: Even lower than the cypress is the open pond to the right. I would venture a guess that’s about 4 feet deep, about half the depth of the water in the adjacent cypress and the hammock being completely dry. And I almost forgot. About mid photo, a little to the right, is a marl prairie. It’s flooded shin deep with water.

fall

Change in the air?
Not scarf weather, but definitely fall-ish

Although not an official cold front …

And it’s still possible to overheat in the midday sun:

The cooler morning and evening temperatures are a welcome relief. Daytime highs and still ramping up into the high 80s and nighttime lows are staying above 70, but with daylight hours on the wane and last week’s dose of a drier air front, its as cool an early October as I can remember.

Fall is definitely in the air.

temperature check

Summer’s final stretch
And why fall isn't here yet

Celestial fall officially started …

on September 21st.

Comparison of night and day time temperatures in Naples, Florida to farther “Up North”

But in south Florida,

it’s still a waiting game before autumn starts to kick in.

Daytime highs are still in the high 80s and night time lows are still above 70 degrees.

According the book Florida Winter, fall in Florida officially commences with the onset on two consecutive nights that drop below 60 degrees. The animated map below shows that typically happens around the fourth month of November for south Florida.

Animation of when fall “typically” arrives to the Florida peninsula

If that seems like a long wait,

Not to worry: Fall doesn’t happen in one fell swoop.

We get plenty of signs along the way.

fall

Signs of fall
Fall arrives in many ways, just not temperatures

Signs of fall in the swamp are subtle,

But they are there if you know where to look.

Early October:
Resurrection fern shrinks
to shriveled state indicating
less rain
Late October:
Dwarf cypress prairie
become needle bare indicating
less daylight hours
Early November:
Cold water seeps into boots
indicating lower air temperatures
Late November:
The cypress-pine
swamp mosaic really
starts to “pop”

Can you think of others?

swamp dictionary

True Florida Fall
Not to be confused with the calendar version

I know everyone’s excited about cold air about to move in.

But let’s put it in perspective, too.

Red bars indicated the five-day
forecast for Naples, Florida

Yes, it will be cooler (and delightfully crisp).

However, it will not meet the criteria for “official” Florida Fall.  For that to happen, nighttime low temperatures need to drop below 60° F for two consecutive nights in a row (source: Winsberg’s Florida Weather).  That’s when fall in Florida begins.

Nor will it meet the standard for an “official” Florida Winter Day.

For that to happen, daytime temperatures have to stay at 70° F or below.

Nonetheless, I’ll take the cool air!