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Sub-basins close out the summer with a bang, sort of

Posted by on September 8, 2015

 After several months of hit-and-miss precipitation, the sub-basins along the Savannah River delivered in style for August.


Thurmond bested the Rainfall Chart_Aug_finalrest in volume and in relation to its average by receiving 6.5 inches, approaching nearly double its average of 3.7 inches. Russell and Hartwell followed suit, netting 6.0 and 5.3 inches, respectively (averages are 3.7 and 5.0, respectively).

In fact, with the exception of this past April, when Hartwell received 6.27 inches, this month’s take was the most rainfall the sub-basins have received for any month since December 2013.

However, like a failing student who aces his final exam only to come up short for the overall grade, these impressive numbers in August weren’t enough to prevent the reservoirs from slipping into Drought Level 1.

Drought Level 1 is the first in a series of stages that dictates changes in release rates with the Savannah River System.

And though this condition carries the negative connotation of the word “drought,” it just means the Corps takes a more conservative approach to outflows from Thurmond Dam.

Despite being in Drought Level 1, community members have reason to be optimistic. According to Stan Simpson, a Savannah District hydrologist and a senior water manager, this late summer dip is relatively common. In addition, several indicators point to a wet winter for the Southeast.

The Climate Prediction Center issued an advisory Aug. 13, which stated there’s a 90 percent chance for strong El Niño conditions this winter. If this occurs, the relatively warm waters in the Pacific will bring greater precipitation to the southeastern U.S., including the sub-basins along the Savannah River.

Put simply, the reservoirs were slightly down, but don’t count them out just yet; there’s every reason to believe they’ll make us proud by winter break.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, public affairs specialist

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