Spring Drought

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Intro - Sunshine or Rain State?

The subtle and interconnected nature of flood and drought

By Robert V. Sobczak

Drought in the swamp?

It almost sounds like a contradiction in terms.

audio introduction

But come every winter the water table (almost) reliably drops to the point, at some point in the spring, much of the swamp is bone dry.

Actually, the term "swamp" is a bit of a misnomer.

A better way to describe the habitats of the Big Cypress is as a mosaic.

Cypress strands, domes and dwarf prairies probably come to mind first. But almost half of the Big Cypress is comprised of the slightly higher-ground of marl prairies, pinelands and (a little higher up still) hammocks. And even deeper than the cypress are the pond apple and pop ash forests, marshes, sloughs and deepest of all - the alligator pools.

Not just a homogenous swamp, these habitats are mixed together in a distinctive pattern that is reflective of tiny topographic hills and valleys and the dual drivers of fire and flood.

Wildfire can occur any time in the swamp, at any season.

Recent Drought Charts

But it isn't until the winter dry season, and in particularly deep spring dry downs, when wildfire can spread quickly and widely across the landscape.

U.S. Drought Monitor

Day 1

Current Statewide Drought Map

Day 1

National Drought Map

Recent Blog Posts

Spring nosedive explained
The Tortoise pulls ahead of the Hare

Campfire talk on the spring nosedive

Florida’s wet and dry seasons …

Are comparable to the race between the Tortoise and the Hare.

The Tortoise pulls ahead!

Think of the hare as the hard-pounding summer rains.

That’s when the swamp rapidly floods over and fills up and the Hare pulls ahead with a far lead.

But just when it looks like the Hare all but won the race …

Read more

Tale of two dry seasons

Well, we knew it couldn’t last …

Both the rainy pace of the start of the dry season,

Comparison of the dry season’s two halves

And the prodigious pool it dropped on the swamp.

The water has receded towards the domes for much of the Preserve.

And don’t look now:

We’re about to enter into the heart of the dry season.

Bar chart showing calendar year and water year rainfall accumulations, in inches

Read more

How to: Weather a dry spell

Lawns may be drying up in town,

But the swamp is doing just fine thank you.

Whoa, can you see how
September and March of
Water Year 20202 were
unusually dry?

The reason:

Fifteen inches of rain over the past two months.

The swamp sponge helps retain that rain,

And also weather a dry spell or two.

Great job Swamp!