It happens every year — so far — although, never quite sure what all the fuss is about.
But, just the same, we’re always happy when it starts rainin’.
That may seem like an odd thing to say, and sure as shootin’ we’ll be complainin’ ‘bout the rain come August, but right now we’re revelin’ in it.
If you were observant, you mighta noticed long about the middle of last week that tell-tale sign of thunderheads buildin’ over the Big Cypress. That’s a sure sign the rainy season has begun. Typically, the thunderheads will build over the interior as the sea breezes from the west and east meet over the increasingly hotter swamps. Summer is nothin’ without the near daily peninsular fronts building and spreading needed rain toward both coasts.
It’s all part of the South Florida cycle and it’s responsible for the lush environment in which we live.
Folks who think seasons never change in South Florida just ain’t payin’ attention.
The rain is good but this year — so far — it ain’t near enough and actually this past week’s rain has more to do with odd weather systems than with typical rainy season rain.
And just for the record, we’re a long way from overcomin’ the worst drought South Florida has seen since record-keepin’ began back in 1932.
The South Florida Water Management District, which keeps tabs on such stuff, says the period from November 2008 to this April ranks as the direst six months in recorded South Florida history. Some wells monitoring the groundwater system contained in the limestone aquifers have reached all-time lows and Lake Okeechobee is nearly three feet lower than its average for this time of year. We need more than 11 inches of rain to break even on the amount of rain we need to sustain this sub-tropical paradise.
Seems like each winter in recent history has been a little drier than the last. Heck, some folks say the climate is changin’.
I sure ain’t gonna wish a hurricane on us, but one has to admit, a little tropical storm could help matters considerably.
You folks from up North who only spend a few months around these parts get this weather as a special treat. We prefer to keep summer weather somewhat of a secret, because if everybody knew how nice it is around here in the summer they’d want to stay all year-round.
As it is now, everybody thinks it’s dreadfully hot here in the summertime and, you know what? It is. It gets unbearable. You don’t want to be around here in the mosquito-riddled summer.
OK, got that?
Now, the truth of the matter is the summer weather is pretty dang nice; pleasant, with a cool sea breeze blowin’ in off the Gulf, producing the thick clouds about six or seven miles inland that bring the rain. When it’s sweltering up North, it’s comfortable here.
As the season progresses, the rains tend to crawl closer and closer to the coast until it reaches the point where most people set their watches — and their lives — around the daily shower at four or five in the afternoon.
Natives know to get off the golf course or the tennis court or the Gulf by late afternoon to avoid the lightning and frequently torrential downpours.
The ancients will tell you the lightning is a pair of twin boys who were spooked by the thunder when their mother was killed by a panther. They became men of thunder and learned to lash out when they became angry. When you see lightning flashing vigorously across the sky, the twins are really mad.
Even though the Farmers’ Almanac tells you when the seasons officially change, Florida weather doesn’t know how to read.
Around here, fall tends to start when the first cold front from up North makes its way this far south and winter arrives when they become a weekly occurrence and will last until the first cold front that never makes it this far south.
You nice folks from up North just keep on believin’ it’s too hot here in the summer. You don’t want to be here.
But as Papa pointed out through Thomas Hudson in, “Islands in the Stream,” the summer has fine weather when there are no storms.
Steve Hart is a sailor, angler, explorer, raconteur, amateur citrus-grower and semi-professional theologian who masqueraded as a Florida journalist and pundit for the last 25 years. A fifth-generation Floridian, Hart comes from solid cracker stock but revels in the changing face of 21st century Florida and its patchwork quilt of people, their cultures, traditions, shades and ideas. His book, “Tales from Down Yonder, Florida,” is available in local bookstores and on the Web at downyonderflorida.com.