Waiting out the storm

Fourth horseman rides into southwest Florida

Rain Or Shine Report for July 18th

After being away, out of south Florida, for the past couple weeks, I was eager to get back and crunch the data to see where everything was at.

At least that was the plan.

But by Monday morning I saw that the sky had something else in mind. Namely, lots of clouds, all day, and a thorough drenching … for four days straight.

Here in southwest Florida it hasn’t stopped raining since our plane landed in RSW Airport.

So what’s the saying:
Waiting out the storm.

That’s exactly what I did. There was no sense in talking about last week’s data – or even the last 3 weeks for that matter – when the current week was already shaping up to be a game changer.

The weather finally started to break by Wednesday evening, and by Thursday morning, with the reappearance of our traditional blue morning sky of the summer here in southwest Florida, it seemed safe to say that the storm had passed …

And even gave way to our typical pattern:
Sea breeze fed clouds rose out of the Everglades by the afternoon.

But we’ve said it before that our annual rain allotment is delivered by the stampeding hooves of the Four Horsemen, not one, and the enhanced sea breeze (our old faithful) just can’t pull the wagon itself.

Which horseman was this most recent storm?

Chalk it up as Horseman #4: the Tropical Tempest.
No, it didn’t have rotation, or not much, and could not muster much wind, or thunder, let alone lightening … but chalk it up as a rainmaker to remember. And now it’s headed up north toward Lanier. When it’s all said and done, it could kill two birds (i.e., end two droughts – southwest Florida and southeast US) with a single stone. That’s a bad saying, but you know what I mean.

We’ll have to keep an eye on Lanier to see if it gets a boost.

As for Lake Okeechobee, it’s now risen above 10 ft, but it’s still below 11, and from the looks of it, it appears safe say that the Lake will make it to 500 consecutive days below the 11 ft mark.

The shame of it is that I won’t be here to celebrate the milestone: I’ll be in southeast Texas where incidentally, just like south Florida and just like the Hautes Fagnes of Belgium, it also gets around 55 inches of rain per year. The rain in southeast Texas is spread out pretty evenly throughout the year, unlike here, but their rivers there peak in spring thanks to the continental source of its headwaters.

But back to south Florida.
Do you remember the meager dry season of 2 inches per month rains, with 3 inches considered wet, at least relative to the dry season average.

Compare that to the recent turn of events, or flipping of the switch as we say.

The southwest coast, from Naples to Ft Myers, has received almost 20 inches since the start of June, with 5 inches of that coming over the past 4 days. Big Cypress National Preserve is not far behind at 18 inches, with over 3 inches over the past 4 days.

Marco Island momentarily returned to its access-by-boat-only days of yore, sort of like Chokoloskee pre 1953 before the causeway.

Jolly bridge was closed for a time until water on the road receded. The Marco rain gage recorded a whopping 6 inches of rain on the final day of the storm, and 11 inches total over the past 4 days.
Compare that to the Kissimmee, and the Lake, and the east coast that have been in wet season mode, but not the chart topping rains we’ve seen on the southwest corner of the peninsula.

I’m eager to see how much the rain raised water levels and increased flows … but that will have to wait until next week.

The photos of water flowing are from Henderson Creek Canal where it spills over the final weir before heading to Rookery Bay. Water hasn’t flown over the spillway since Ernesto swept through in late July of 2006.

But all streaks eventually come to an end.
. . .
Please take note, if you haven’t already, that I’ve changed the Journal around a bit. I’m trying to streamline it so that it is an easier tool for accessing water information.
Towards that end, I’ve added links to other water blogs and links to handy water data sites right on the front page of the journal, including the Watershed Windshield database maintained at Florida Gulf Coast University.

I’ve also made changes so the journal will be easier to maintain. I’ve overhauled the Wet off the Press newspaper links so that it’s always accessible from the front page of the journal, and also added the relatively wordless Photo of the Day feature, which replaces the wordier Liquid Lens postings. Let me know if you have any photos you’d like the post.

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