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Rain is coming, but will it be enough?

Posted by on August 5, 2016

If the first three days in August are any indication, things could be looking up for the Savannah River Basin.

Last month, on the other hand, the only reason to look up was in a fit of frustration. Russell’s take was especially bleak, netting only 2.2 inches compared to its 4.3 inch average. Hartwell and Thurmond each received 3.1 inches, just 60 and 71 percent of their monthly averages, respectively.

July Rainfall Chart

It has definitely been worse: A dozen or more times in the last 68 years the sub-basins have received less than they did last month, including in 1980 when Thurmond got a paltry 1.4 inches, and a six-year dry spell from 2006-11 when Hartwell couldn’t hurdle the 3-inch mark.

The interesting thing about last month’s numbers is that rain did fall, but it either missed the mark or was just plain mist.

For instance, here’s Hartwell’s Doppler estimate by the hour in July. The chart itself looks green, indicating rainfall, but the overwhelming majority of the values is four hundredths of an inch or less. Thurmond painted a similar picture with its Doppler estimate.

Another noteworthy trend is the manner in which the sub-basins are underperforming this year. Thurmond, aka Mr. Consistency, has reached between 71-79 percent of its average each month since April, whereas Hartwell took a stepped approach: progressively notching its way toward the average every three months before plunging back to 20-30 percent.

August, though, could be another story. In just three days, Hartwell has already received more than half the rainfall it received in June, which had a similar average as August (4.8 vs. 4.9 inches). Likewise, Russell equaled its June total of 1.4 inches in just 3 days. Meanwhile, Mr. Consistency (Thurmond), with 1 inch, is still plugging away.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

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