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Intro - Sunshine or Rain State?

By Robert V. Sobczak

South Florida is a bipolar ...

When it comes to it's annual rain cycle.

The reason?

Four fifths of its five feet of rain fall in the six month summer season. Five feet of rain sounds like a lot, until you consider that half the year only averages 2 inches or less per month. Or in other words: Meteorologic drought is hardwired into the annual cycle.

Listen to the Audio Introduction

One day of big rain can be a game changer that lasts for many months.

In the same way, multiple months of no rain can dry everything out. At the risk of being Captain Obvious, it's at the times of deepest drought we most regret shunting the wet season bounty of rain to tide.

Recent Rain Charts

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7-Day National Rain Total

Quick Forecast

Courtesy of SFWMD and NOAA

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Florida Radar

Narrative Forecast

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Recent Blog Posts

dry season

Dry season review
A holiday guide to the dry season

How did a relatively normal dry season …

appear to be so darn wet?

Months or holidays: Which interval do you prefer for comparing rain? The advantage of months is that they are equal units. The advantage of the holidays is it allows us to partition the dry season into its various acts (i.e. opening gate, cool season, green out, spring ebb, etc.). We were headed for a “dry” dry season until the April unexpectedly kicked in.

Answer: It’s not how much but when the rain fell. And I’m not talking summer rains or fall hurricanes, which together give us about 43 inches per year. And I’m not even talking the thirteen inches of dry season we recorded this year for the 6-month span between the start of November to the end of April, which for the record was about 1-2 inches above the normal dry season total. The big difference maker when it comes to the swamp batting back the descent into deep spring drought is April rainfall. No April rain means deep drought in the swamp. This year, as indicated by the yellow bar above, the swamp recorded a solid 6 inches of rain from the spring solstice (March 22) until now. That’s twice as much as the year before (2021) and three times as much as the year before that (2020) and just the right amount of rain necessary to keep standing water in the cypress domes and strands.

Did I mention we had a subpar summer? It didn’t matter thanks to the timely April rains!

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Question: What’s your favorite dry season holiday?

Case of the Missing May
Firelight Radio Presents

What happens when the calendar …

Misses a month?

Firelight Radio is available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

Answer: That’s what happened this year when we went from February, March, April to … June(?)  That’s right, by all indications we missed May.  You see typically the start of the summer wet season starts around Memorial Day, or the last week of May.  This year the transition occurred at the end of April, making me wonder if we either leapt a month ahead or somehow missed the month of May.  The good news: Just when I thought May was a lost cause we seem to be in the midst of receiving our final blast of dry air before the 6-month humidity hammer of Florida’s endless summer starts to bear down.

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Puzzler: Why is October (i.e. oct = 8) the 10th month?

Weather Drop

What May?
February, March, April ... June?

Usually May is that month …

That the swamp both bottoms out and bounces back.

The Everglades usually bottom out in May

Or did the water calendar jump straight to June? That’s what it feels like these past few days. A regular onslaught of afternoon rain showers — and I mean some real gully washers — are giving early May a decidedly beginning of June feel. It’s too early to tell if the pattern will persist, but if it does, then make a mental note: 2022 will be remembered as the Year Without a May.

Caption: Calendar chart showing daily rainfall in the Big Cypress Swamp from the mid 1998 to present. The black drops are Big Rain Days (i.e. when over an inch of rain fell in one day). We get a handful of those every year. Orange dots are days without rain which, as you can see, dominate from October through mid May.

Attention: The potential early start of the summer rainy pattern cannot be used as an excuse to forget Mother’s Day, Memorial Day or any other events or scheduled meetings that may occur this month.


April Showers
Bring May sheet flow?

The end of the water year …

Usually ends on a dry note.

Monthly rainfall chart for Big Cypress National Preserve

Not this year. The long-term normal for the month is around 2 inches. This year we doubled that total, which much of it coming towards the end. The start of the new water year in May typically begins the deepest and driest part of the spring dry down. This year, the start of May feels more like the start of June. Afternoon showers have been the norm. Will they last? At this point the only thing I can say for sure is that the mosquitoes can’t be far behind.