Remembering and Comparing the 1997/98 El Nino to Today’s, SLR/IRL

Sofia slide on fish lesions in SLR 1999.
Sofia slide on fish lesions in SLR 1999.
Slide from Dr Gary Goforth's December 2015 update on SLR/IRL Lake Okeechobee.
Slide from Dr Gary Goforth’s December 2015 update on SLR/IRL Lake Okeechobee.

Today I would like to briefly remember 1997 and 1998 and recall why this year is so important to our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon history. I would also like to note for some who may not know why these years are  being brought back into the ACOE/SFWMD discussion this year.

To remember issues of 1997-98 and see full SOFIA write-up on the issue go to http://sofia.usgs.gov/sfrsf/rooms/coastal/stlucie/fish/

Today’s slide is complements of a recent document shared by our friend, Dr Gary Goforth. (http://garygoforth.net) “Draft – Wet Season 2015 Lake Discharges – December 9, 2015.” This slide shows that Lake Okeechobee today is lower than it was in 1997.

Why is Dr Goforth comparing 1997? He is comparing 1997 because in 1997-98 there was a strong El Nino (rainy winter), just as we are experiencing right now in 2015/2016.

Certainly we have all noticed how much it is raining this winter so far!

The difference  as far a Lake O management in 1997-98 was that there was no”LORS” schedule then….The 2008 LORS or “Lake Okeechobee Release Schedule” did not go into place until 2008 so prior to that year the lake was allowed to be over a foot higher. Since 2008,  the lake is required to be lower because of work and safety issues on the Herbert Hoover Dike.

This benefits the estuaries in some ways  in that not so much water is stored and can be discharged upon them at once, but on the other hand when it rains the lake is not allowed to “store water” so that water is released into the estuaries…..thus the need for much more storage….(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/FactSheets/FactSheetArticleView/tabid/6106/Article/479989/lake-okeechobee-water-management.aspx)
—-In any case in the slide below are some Dr Goforth’s remarks from his presentation you may find interesting.

It is important that as we move forward to also look back. We must remember what happened in 1997-98, a similar El Nino to what is happening right now…. 1997-98 were not  good years for the river…So much water was released into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon in 1997-1998 that there were more reported fish lessons than ever before– due to too much and too long of exposure to fresh water. This is also why, in 1998,the Rivers Coalition was born. (http://riverscoalition.org)

Section of Dr Goforth's report on Lake O levels December 9, 2015.
Section of Dr Goforth’s report on Lake O levels December 9, 2015.

1999 SOFIA SLR fish lesion report: (http://sofia.usgs.gov/sfrsf/rooms/coastal/stlucie/fish/)
2015 NOAA update El Nino: (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/ensodisc.pdf)

3 thoughts on “Remembering and Comparing the 1997/98 El Nino to Today’s, SLR/IRL

  1. I remember 1997 well—It was the year the wind blew so hard I could not get offshore on bottom fishing boat for 3 months. The year I helped build Osceola hospital. The wind has blown only about half as much. Some times I thinkl trying to tell about my lifelong relationship with the lagoon is like you try to teach me german

    Liked by 1 person

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