temperature check

Summer’s final stretch
And why fall isn't here yet

Celestial fall officially started …

on September 21st.

Comparison of night and day time temperatures in Naples, Florida to farther “Up North”

But in south Florida,

it’s still a waiting game before autumn starts to kick in.

Daytime highs are still in the high 80s and night time lows are still above 70 degrees.

According the book Florida Winter, fall in Florida officially commences with the onset on two consecutive nights that drop below 60 degrees. The animated map below shows that typically happens around the fourth month of November for south Florida.

Animation of when fall “typically” arrives to the Florida peninsula

If that seems like a long wait,

Not to worry: Fall doesn’t happen in one fell swoop.

We get plenty of signs along the way.

big weather

Steaming swamp
Think hot asphalt after a cool rain

From the distance it looked like smoke …

Or maybe dust kicked up from the limerock road.

It looked primordial, but it was actually super chilled

Only upon closer inspection did we see it was steam.

The source?

Similar to a hot asphalt road steaming after getting cooled down by an afternoon shower, the wisps of water vapor hovering over the cypress stand were the result of an ice-cold drenching from a super thunder cell.

The super cell, looking north, about 15 mile east of the strand

As good fortune would have it, I actually took a photo of the thunderstorm about an hour before and 15 miles upwind from the steaming strand. The air among the wisps was incredibly cooled and the fragrance from the cypress intense. Landing and walking in the water was further proof.

The water was chilled as if it had hailed.

rain charts

Summer fizzle?
Or will more rain showers save the day?

The good news:

We still have 3-4 weeks of wet season to go.

About 43 inches of rain fall in Big Cypress National Preserve every summer, as tabulated for the 6-month period from May to October.

By wet season,

I’m talking meteorologically, and specifically the regular pattern of afternoon rain showers.

Yes, we may get tropical weather in October and November (think Wilma and Eta), and yes the swamp will remain soggy through the calendar year and winter cold months.

But by mid October the rain machine usually shuts down.

Transition between the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp, looking west

By my counting, we still have some filling up to do.

rain charts

Rain Table and Map
Swamp-wide view

No, water does not flow up hill.

But trying to keep up with it often feels like an uphill battle.

Table of monthly rainfall

My solution: No one graph, table or map usually tells the full story. You need a combination. And even then you usually have to be looking out the window, too. But looking out your window can be deceiving, too.

That’s where aggregating data by watersheds or basins comes in handy.

Rain for the past 7, 30 and 90 days (in inches)
rereadable campfire

Florida Weather
The Book

I know what you’re thinking …

That’s kind of a bland title for a book.

Video review of the book

Only, there’s nothing bland about Florida Weather …

Neither the subject nor this book. The book is truly a gift. It opened my eyes to a place I thought – as many do when arriving from Up North – to be a seasonless land. Winsberg puts that fallacy immediately to rest by his organization of the book around the four seasons themselves: Summer, Fall, Winter and Spring. The simplicity of structure provides the foundation for a truly unique and impressively quantitative exploration of the four seasons, Florida style. If that sounds dry, it’s not. The book is chock full of historical anecdotes, summary maps and other interesting tidbits.

For me the book is like an old friend, as all good rereadables are. Time and time again I find myself pulling this relatively thin tome off my shelf to brush up on the season or just simply to relax. The book helped me bond with Florida.

It also made me an instant expert on the weather.

Thank you to Morton D. Winsberg and his collaborators for this wonderful book!

swamp dictionary

Florida Groundhog Day Defined
Turns out Punxsutawney Phil summers in Florida

Up North on the continent, 

Labor Day marks the summer’s “last hurrah.”

This video explains more

But down here on the pensinsula

Labor Day is a reminder that we have 6 more weeks of summer to go.

Sort of sounds like the “summer version” of Groundhog Day to me. And so it turns out: Punxsutawney Phil summers in Florida? Who knew?

Swamp gets soaked
Third BRD of year sweeps through south Florida

It was our third of the water year (i.e. since January 2021) …

And second of the wet season.

History of Big Rain Days (BRDs) in south Florida

What is a Big Rain Day (BRD)?

It’s any day when south Florida averages an inch or more of rain across the entire peninsula.

We have 3 BRDs so far this year

On average, south Florida gets about 5 BRDs per year. Flood years we typically get more (i.e. 10 in 2005, the year of Wilma) and drought years get less (i.e. 2 in the 2011, the year of the Jarhead Wildfire).

What months do BRDs strike most?

Almost 20 percent of them occur in June. But the take-home lesson from the table below is that practically every month has at least a 1 in 30 chance of getting a BRD. And that’s all it takes. A single day of rain can change the outlook for the whole month, or longer.

BRDs are surprisingly rare in July and August

Tuesday’s BRD wasn’t gargantuan …

But it did set the stage for the high-water heart of the wet season ahead.

Water typically peaks in September and October in the swamp.