Wet season’s 1.5 months old, but flows and levels still down
Rainfall. The Lower Kissimmee (LK) Basin has already received its average July rainfall total, and we’re still at the month’s midpoint. A little over 6 inches have fallen in the LK since the start of July, which incidently also surpasses LK’s 5 inch June rainfall total. That should give a helping hand putting flows back in the Kissimmee River. The other big July rainfall story is the East Caloosahatchee (EC) Basin. It has received close to 8 inches since the start of the month. That mid-month total matches the 8 inch of EC rain that fell for the full month of June. In comparison, the Southwest Coast (including Big Cypress National Preserve) have only received 4 inches of July rain. But make no doubts, Miami-Dade leads all other basins with 23 inches since the start of May. The Lake, Kissimmee Basins, and Southwest Coast have received about half that total over the same period.
Big Cypress: Big Cypress National Preserve ,Corkscrew and OK Slough . The wetland wetting front is still hanging around at the cypress forest level. The wetlands north of the I75 corridor, especially in the preserve’s northwest Bear Island Corner, remain the driest. Standing water is weirdly hard to find in Okaloacoochee Slough and East Hinson Marsh. In mid July 2005, the slough and marsh held over 2 ft of water. But such late starts aren’t all that anomolous; 2004 and 2006 both saw similar late starts in the wet season in that area. Along our US41 corridor, conditions are much wetter. The wetting front has risen above the cypress into the open wet prairies, and in some places such as Gum Slough have inched across the hydric pines.
Everglades: Everglades National Park ,WCA3,WCA12. Those wetter conditions across Big Cypress NP’s southern end have begun feeding freshwater flows into downstream Everglades National Park. Around 500 cfs are flowing Under the US41 bridges, with 80 percent of those flows passing through the bridges between Carnestown (SR29) and Monroe Station (Loop Road); but that is far short of the 2000 cfs mid-July average. Around 500 cfs of inflows also entered into Taylor Slough headwaters through the S332. In comparison, inflows into the Park’s northern boundary with US41 that hugs up against the Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA3A) are still minimal, due to low water levels in WCA3A and gates still being largely closed. There’s only about a half foot of water pooling behind the S12s due to seasonally low levels in upstream WCA3A. Water stage in Shark River Slough at P33 has remained flat for the past several weeks, putting water stage in the slough at a little over a 1 ft depth, and about a half foot below the 5-yr mid July average. Taylor Slough (at P37) and Lostmans Slough (at P34) are also showing similar 1 ft slough depths.
Lake O: Lake O ,Kissimmee . Lake O stage has rebounded to 9.1 ft msl. That places its stage at 3 ft below mid July of last year, and 5 ft below the 5-yr mid July average. Lake stage needs to rise 1 ft to gravity feed through the lake’s southern structures, 4.5 ft to reach the approximate bottom of the interior-levee littoral zone, and 6.5 ft to get to the approximate top of the Lake’s interior-levee wetlands. In 2001 Lake stage rebounded above the 10 ft msl toward the end of July. Just 2 years ago in July of 2005, Lake stage was over 16 ft msl. That year it went on to flood the full extent of the littoral zone for 6 consecutive months, and stayed above the littoral zone’s lower base for 10 consecutive months, finally dropping below 13.5 ft msl in April 2006. Lake stage has been below that level for the 15 months since.