Florida's geology and climate
has more in common with its Caribbean Basin neighbors and
the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico than with North America.
In geologic terms, the Florida Peninsula is young, rising
from the sea a mere million years ago. The state is comprised
of aquifers. Most commonly born of the springs that once
lured Spanish explorers in search of the famed "Fountain
of Youth" to Florida, these aquifers gave birth to
the Florida Everglades, have fed Florida's agricultural
industries and, today, quench the thirst of tremendous population
growth and economic development.
A key feature of Florida's geology is the Hawthorne Formation;
this karst limestone ridge, better seen from the air than
from the ground, forms the backbone of Florida. The Formation
stretches southward from the limestone beds of the Suwannee
River to the soft, silted underbelly of Lake Okeechobee,
one of the largest lakes entirely within the United States.
The sinks that dot its spine have spawned the lore andliterature
of Florida, from Native American legend through popular
culture icons: the mermaids of Weeki Wachi, and the backdrop
for more distant or fantastic venues: the Tarzan movies
of the 1940sand 1950s and Voyage to the Bottom of Sea of
1970s TV fame.
Other impressive features of Florida's geology are the
St. Johns River and the Apalachicola and Tampa Bays. The
only major river in the United States to flow North, the
St. Johns River was subject to a Confederate plan during
the Civil War that would have dammed it, forcing its waters
to flow south. The Apalachicola Bay has been called "nature's
cradle" and has been the source of most of the oysters
served in restaurant across the country. The Tampa Bay
formed a natural harbor, exploited by the Spanish, British
and Americans, alike, as their foothold in Florida grew.
Florida's climate is unique within the United States.
More than that of any other state, Florida's climate supports
a rich and diverse natural heritage. At the cross currents
of temperate and tropic zones, it has either spawned or
attracted numerous and infamous storms including disastrous
hurricanes. Every year, Florida records more and more intense
lightning strikes than anywhere else in the world.