Swamp Rules

The truth about life — there’s just too many rules. That’s where the swamp comes in as a welcome relief. No worries, no deadlines, not rules … or are there? | Water Writings | Easy Trivia | Watersh-editorials | Dictionary | Bookshelf | aquatic-quandaries | Swamp rules | Tales of the water cycle | Ghosts of watersheds past | Watershed myths | Before and after | Speaking Water | Measuring Water | Fireside Water

Crossing the dotted lines
How invisible lines shape our thinking

Dotted lines warp our view …

Of how a watershed naturally works

Available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

I‘m not saying let’s do away with the lines.

All I’m saying is let’s try to find some common ground.

As seen in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve

This National Park Service placard at the trailhead to Big Cypress Bend boardwalk has always intrigued me. It’s a state trail, part of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park which was established in the mid 1970s. So the placard predates the dotted lines that eventually went in, but to me – both then and today – it’s a reminder that our modern-day boundaries are not set in stone, nor should our thinking simply stop wherever they start and end.

Share with friends

This Just In: “Fakahatchee Strand is getting a new visitor center at Big Cypress Bend, which will also lengthen the boardwalk.”

Read more

Dual Calendar?
Julian vs Water Year

A year older, a year wetter

Normal people turn the calendar to a new year on January 1st. Not hydrologists — not even close. And rightly so. January falls in the middle of south Florida’s winter dry season. Starting the year anew in January splits the dry season in half — a big no-no if you’re trying to tabulate dry season rainfall and full year water amounts. The solution? Enter the water year. Up north on the continent the water year starts on October 1st (long story). The short story is that south Florida’s water starts anew May 1st each year on May 1st. Don’t expect a big parade or a big summer storms to magically start on cue on the first of the month. And to be certain, the first few weeks of May are usually dry. But make no mistake: It’s also the month that the humidity hammer drops and summer rain clouds start to emerge, even if it’s sporadic at first and usually doesn’t start in earnest towards the latter Memorial Day half.

The upside, and why hydrologists like me are adamant on this point: Starting the water year on May 1st allows us to split the year into two equal 6-month wet and dry seasons.

winter

Florida’s 70° Rule
For measuring summer and winter

People winter in Florida, as in the verb.

We call them snow birds.

Naples enjoys 3 weeks of winter to 20 weeks of summer

To them, without a doubt …

Winter the noun does not exist in south Florida.

Major caveat: To us “year rounders” the thermometer couldn’t be more clear. We go by the 70 degree rule. What is the 70 degree rule? You know it’s a cold day in Florida when the daytime high doesn’t rise above 70° F. We call those day “winter.” On the other side of the coin, you know its a hot day in Florida when the nighttime low doesn’t drop below 70° F. Going by the 70 degree rule, Naples averages 18 days of winter and 130 days of summer. As for the rest of the days, us “year rounders” call those spring and fall; or in the parlance of the northerners, “– that’s ridiculous, it’s all summer!” Well, not if you’re a Florida weather connoisseur.

Ghosts of watersheds past

Age of litter
Geologic evolution of a tin can

How old is this marl prairie?

Judging from this upper layer I would say a good thirty years old.

If this were a car, we’d call it a classic

That’s when they stopped making pull tab cans.

The label was too faded to read.

About a week later I ran into this can floating plain as day in the center of a small cypress dome. It was also a pull tab, thus presumably about the same age, but I was shocked to discover in picking it up that its label read as clear as day. And that was one thick can! They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.

It didn’t hurt it was protected by the shade.

The aluminum on this can was surprisingly thick

Bottom Line:

I wasn’t sure if I should pick it up and haul it out, or let it stay, untouched, as a mid-1970s archaeological find?

Wet boot test
Soggy socks are even a better indicator

There’s basically two ways to know it’s the wet season: (1) You can look at the chart above or (2) go out and see it for yourself. Warning: The second way will probably result in getting your socks wet. Never the greatest feeling. But once you get past the hurdle of full immersion, you almost forget that they are wet at all. About the chart above: The swamp has two solid “wet season” months under its belt, and is working on a third (August). The blue bars show recent monthly rainfall. The horizontal white lines show the long-term average for each month. The “dark gray” and “light gray” bands show the normal and historic range for the month. We had a very dry “dry season,” thus despite the abundant rain, the swamp is a bit slower this year filling up. Final note: To become a true rainfall expert, we highly recommend both the approaches discussed above.