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When ‘just shooting the average’ is a lofty goal

Posted by on June 21, 2016

If Mother Nature golfed, she’d be firmly atop the leaderboard at the 2016 Savannah River Basin Invitational.

Last month she continued her five-month streak of sub-par rainfall performances, but the spectators have traded their golf clap for a nervous laugh as the temperatures have begun to rise.

Russell was theMay 2016 Rainfall Chart only sub-basin to beat its average in May when it collected 3.7 inches (average 3.6 inches). Hartwell barely squeaked over 4 inches (average 4.5), while Thurmond finished an inch short of its average (2.7 vs. 3.7 average).

The interesting part about May’s rainfall is that the precipitation fell, just not in the usual places.

For instance, Savannah received more rain in a single day (May 29) than Thurmond did the entire month (3.3 vs. 2.7).

In addition, Savannah’s 10-inch take in May was only a half inch less than Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond combined.

If the basin’s performance following the last two very strong El Niños is any indication, we could be in for a dry summer.

In 1982-83, the sub-basins enjoyed a decent May but experienced declining precipitation throughout the summer (Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond went from 55 to 48%; 46 to 53%; and 78 to 59% of their averages, respectively, from June-August).

And although the amount of precipitation was greater for the following very strong El Niño in 1997-98, the trend was the same: From June to August, Hartwell went from 94 to 66% of its average; Russell, 111 to 60%; Thurmond, 76 to 69%. The month of July was especially dry during the ’82-83 El Niño where the sub-basins received only about 30-40% of their average.

In light of all this, is it naïve to hope the law of averages is stronger than the remnants of a few very strong El Niños?

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