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High praise for below average performance

Posted by on February 17, 2016

For all the hubbub this year’s strong El Niño has generated among forecasters, January’s precipitation, which delivered about 80% of the average at each sub-basin, felt more underwhelming than the numbers suggest.

It’s like when LeBron James only scores 20 points.

Hartwell posted a respectable 4.55 inches Jan 2016Rainfall Chart(5.23 in. average), while Russell and Thurmond fell about an inch short of their January averages (3.28 vs. 4.34, and 3.22 vs. 4.34, respectively).

In addition, for the past three years the whole basin has fallen short of its January average (Thurmond’s sub-par streak actually goes back six years).

However, in light of December’s record-setting rainfall across the basin, perhaps January’s 80% is more than enough, especially when a larger percentage of that precipitation actually reaches the reservoirs in the winter compared to the summer because of lower rates of evapotranspiration.

Today, as a storm moved east across Georgia the sub-basins got a solid jumpstart on February’s precipitation: Hartwell, 1.87 inches; Russell, 1.92; and Thurmond, 1.47.

In their Jan. 21 “Water Resources Outlook” NOAA forecasters said there’s still a lot of winter and early spring left, and that we won’t be out of the wetter-than-average-conditions woods until April.

NOAA even predicted small bits of respite between larger swaths of rainfall, which should provide residents along the Savannah River Basin (and water managers) some time to regroup.

Still, the situation seems all too Chicken Little: Forecasters have been saying the sky will be falling for so long that you almost start to root for the rain, and feel let down when it doesn’t arrive or takes too long.

However, El Niño’s behavior hasn’t really strayed from forecasters’ predictions since October, and perhaps this isn’t the last we’ll see of this kid.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

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