Rainfall

How To: Read a Rain Chart
I get it, charts can be boring (without narration)

Not that I’m a wildly dynamic speaker …

Nor are rain charts especially charismatic.

Bob has a one-on-one conversation with a rain chart

But combine the two together and I think you get, well — I think you’ll see the result. At the heart of the issue is what I’ve been told so many times: “Bob, you make a splendid rain chart, but most people don’t know how to read them.” And so my journey began, hours after hours, years upon years, in the quest to make the perfect rain chart. My conclusion: I think the only way to give a rain chart its due is to allow it to talk, and speak for itself. Okay, I’ll admit. I had to add the voice. And yes, I had to juice up the charts a bit (some would say with too many colors). Just don’t say I didn’t try.

Comparison of dry season rainfall, from 1970 to present. Cool color-coded bars indicate wet winters and warm color-coded bars indicate drier than normal winter.

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#Overheard: South Florida’s water year starts on May 1st, but the wet season doesn’t officially kick in until around May 20th.

Click “Read More” to see all the hydrographs!

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dry season

Dry season review
A holiday guide to the dry season

How did a relatively normal dry season …

appear to be so darn wet?

Months or holidays: Which interval do you prefer for comparing rain? The advantage of months is that they are equal units. The advantage of the holidays is it allows us to partition the dry season into its various acts (i.e. opening gate, cool season, green out, spring ebb, etc.). We were headed for a “dry” dry season until the April unexpectedly kicked in.

Answer: It’s not how much but when the rain fell. And I’m not talking summer rains or fall hurricanes, which together give us about 43 inches per year. And I’m not even talking the thirteen inches of dry season we recorded this year for the 6-month span between the start of November to the end of April, which for the record was about 1-2 inches above the normal dry season total. The big difference maker when it comes to the swamp batting back the descent into deep spring drought is April rainfall. No April rain means deep drought in the swamp. This year, as indicated by the yellow bar above, the swamp recorded a solid 6 inches of rain from the spring solstice (March 22) until now. That’s twice as much as the year before (2021) and three times as much as the year before that (2020) and just the right amount of rain necessary to keep standing water in the cypress domes and strands.

Did I mention we had a subpar summer? It didn’t matter thanks to the timely April rains!

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Question: What’s your favorite dry season holiday?

Water manager’s delight
How much is "too much?"

For years I’ve struggled …

To make the perfect hydrograph.

Everglades Water Depth Cheat Sheet

My conclusion: It isn’t possible. Every time I finish one, I’m making another. And then when I go back to the one that I thought was a masterpiece, I see room for improvement in how it’s presented. And of course, the data stream has updated. That’s the thing about the water cycle — new data is constantly coming in. It’s just downright hard to keep up. Then there’s always the battle of how much data is “too much?” In my view, the better it’s organized, the more you can back in. The Everglades Water Depth Cheat Sheet may just be the case in point.

About the cheat sheet: It’s my new masterpiece. It took me half a day (up to lunch to create). If that seems like a long time, consider that updating will take just seconds (or rather minutes). So the good news is that it was time well spent.

The deeper truth behind the hydrograph above is that it was 15 years in the making and was fueled by my desire to better understand the Everglades. The key step was charting water depth consistently at each index well using the “slough floor” as the zero reference and using the simple ecological cross section at the top right of the page. As for the historical stats, I calculated them from 1993 to present.

More about the cheat sheet: It’s power is that it allows you to compare apples-to-apples (or oranges-to-oranges as we say in Florida) across the major index wells of the River of Grass; and also go back in time a decade at each site.

I always say I am trying to bring Go Hydrology back to some semblance of its former glory. Looking at this chart, at least on this night, my thought is that I might just get there yet.

animation switch short

Follow the rainbow
A pot of gold awaits

Sometimes in south Florida …

You simply have to ignore the month.

Looking north towards I-75 Alligator Alley

Technically speaking, we should be bearing down (and scarfing up) in preparation for a deep polar freeze (or two). Well, at least not yet. So far this December, the weather has been closer to the hot and humid summer pattern of pop-up showers and copious morning fog. How thick is that fog? Thick enough to make pea soup seem transparently thin. The commute ride into work, for those that have been doing it, has been a white knuckle ride with 300 ft visibility. On the good side, there’s the mid afternoon rainbow as seen above. At 1,000 feet above the ground, the air temperature is also delightfully cool.