Celestial fall officially started …
on September 21st.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The good news:
We still have 3-4 weeks of wet season to go.
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.
By my counting, we still have some filling up to do.
No, water does not flow up hill.
But trying to keep up with it often feels like an uphill battle.
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.
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!
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?
The following forecast is provided by the meteorologists at South Florida Water Management District. It’s a bit technical, but always worth the read. Thank you SFWMD for providing such interesting info!
It was our third of the water year (i.e. since January 2021) …
And second of the wet season.
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.
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.
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.