Water retreat
Into the shelter of the domes

Thoughts of the Big Cypress …

Conjures up thoughts of a flooded swamp.

This is one of my favorite charts. It shows the history of flooding in Big Cypress National Preserve. You read it like a page on a book – calendar years from left right and years from top to bottom. Can you see at the bottom the red “We are Here” sign. That shows the current placement of the water table on the calendar and on the diagram below. More about the chart: Anything color coded green, blue or purple means the cypress domes and strands are flooded. Water is still present, but retreating in the domes and strands, for the brown, orange and red color coding. Areas with no color coding at all (i.e. the blank space) is where the swamp goes bone dry. As you can also see from the chart, we have a solid 5-9 weeks before the wet season starts up. So hold onto your seats, the spring dry season is kicking in!

But come spring …

Water goes on the retreat to the point that it’s all but out of view. The only way to find it is to venture into a lower-lying cypress dome and strand, and it’s there that you’ll see the spring-shrunk shallow pools, and probably a gator or two.

Last spring was a deep spring drydown. Even the alligator hole in the center of a deep strand (top photo) almost dried up. And it was a long lasting deep drydown, too, lasting over 2 months (see chart above). An April rain shower put out a wildfire in the area, but it wasn’t until the wet season rains kicked in in late May that the strand filled back up (bottom photo).

There are two types of dry seasons:

  • One where the cypress domes and strands stay wet (or at least moist).
  • Then there are the deep spring drydowns when everything goes bone dry and the water table drops below the cypress roots.

Where is the swamp now?

Currently at the fork in the road between the two droughts.

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Charlie Invino
Charlie Invino
1 year ago

Enjoying this site very much as an aide in planning a mid-April hike on the FT from I-75 to Oasis. Water availability currently looks sketchy at best, but hoping for rain!

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