Water Cycle

The water cycle is an underutilized yet powerful gateway and passport for getting in touch with nature. | Florida’s cycle Weather | Wet season | Dry season | Endless summer | Waiting for fall | Coolish winter | Spring drought | Hydrologic holidays

Intro - Florida's Flawed Seasons

And How the Water Cycle Simplified the Math

By Robert V. Sobczak

Why chose the water cycle ...

Over the seasons for tracking the year?


Florida has two meteorological seasons: a wet and a dry

Don't get me wrong: The four seasons are great. And let's also not forget, officially they are celestially defined by the position of the earth's tilt as it rotates around the sun even. That being said, we tend to think of them meteorologically the most, or in other words, in terms of the weather.

That's where the seasons and the calendar year for that matter fail us in Florida. For one, the meteorological seasons are skewed quite significantly from the normal continental norms. Summer-like weather lasts for six months, not three. And when fall weather will arrive is anyone's guess. As for winter the season, it's more accurately defined by a spattering of days. And spring? I'm not really sure other than the air is drier but it can get quite hot.

swamp cross section
Swamp's cycle of flood and drought

Using January as the start of the year in Florida is also a complete fail. (Talk about getting the New Year off on the wrong start!) Why? January is smack dab in the middle of Florida's dry season. How can we start a new year when the season still has another 4-5 months on the books? That's where the water year comes in handy. It starts in May when the water table bottoms out and the wet season is about to begin.

So the big solution calls for a two-pronged approach: We replace the water cycle with the seasons and aligning our new annual clock with May, not January, as the start of the new year. And here's the twist: we don't have to drop the seasons and calendar year completely. We keep them in the mix, too. It's not about replacing the old regime completely, it's about custom crafting it to fit into Florida's unique meteorologic mold.

The water year, wet season and dry season help us simplify the seasonal math.

Recent Blog Posts

Tortoise and Hare

If south Florida’s water cycle was a fairy tale,

Which parable would it resemble best?

South Florida’s water cycle resembles the tortoise and hare

Imagine the Hare as rainfall:

It sprints off to an early lead all summer wet season long …

Racing swamp stage up into the pinelands for an early fall peak.

Or in other words – the dry season begins.

Now enters the Tortoise (evaporation).

That shell-covered competitor has been slowly inching along all summer long,

But it’s only when the hare falls asleep.

That the tortoise can finally catch up.

Time out of mind

I’m not sure if I am forgetful, or remember too much.

As a hydrologist, I never have to be reminded to look deep into the data – otherwise I know I will forget, but if I look too deep (and for too long) into those ancient data streams, I run the risk of missing out on what’s unfolding right in front of me, outside my window, on the event horizon as it occurs.

On occasion, that leaves me both unable to keep up and struggling to recall.

The result?

It’s the most dreaded space of all.

A variant of being “lost in time,” but only more rudderless in nature, with a fog-obscured retrace into the past and a future destination no longer known: it’s the peculiar state of cognitive disengagement we call “time out of mind.”  

I’m happy to report (in good cheer) that it is the exception.

Most of the time, for me, the problem is just the opposite – – a mind out of time.

It seems these days I can never quite find enough of it, (at least on this side of the event horizon).

As a hydrologist, that’s what keeps me waking up and coming back for more. Now if the Florida water cycle would only do its part … and slow down!

First two photos were taken during the early fall peak-water season. The last was taken in December two months into the dry season.