Sweetwater runs dry

Sweetwater is one of our deepest, fastest flowing and most conspicuous watering holes in the preserve. Visitors traveling down Loop Road commonly stop there to view wildlife (wading birds and alligators) and watch its torrent of water.

I consider its waters to be high when the nearby staff gage rises to 5 ft above sea level. That happened for 7 consecutive months this past year, from June through January … which is about average.

But what wasn’t average was that it spent a full 3 of those months above 5.5 ft:

That’s the level when the road on either side of the Sweetwater bridge overtops with water.

What also wasn’t average this year was the spring plummet in stage.

Sweetwater is 2-3 ft deeper than the wetlands that surround it. That usually gives its pool staying power long into the spring dry season.

Not this year:

Current water stage at Sweetwater is 3 ft lower than the long-term median for early May, 3.5 ft lower than early May of last year, and about 1 ft below its limestone cobble bottom … down in the shallow aquifer below.

That makes Sweetwater a drought bell weather of sorts:

The swamps are about as waterless as they can get when Sweetwater runs dry.

It’s also a pretty good sign that the start of the wet season can’t be too far around the corner:

Cumulonimbus clouds have been rising out of the Everglades the past few days.  I’ve heard them rumble, and could even smell their water vapor … but it didn’t rain where I was, not yet.

The wet season is upon us, meteorologically speaking, but landscape wise, there is a lot of soaking in to do first.

Sweetwater is case in point.

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