The Savannah River Basin rang in the new year with a bang, but instead of watching the ball (or peach) drop, it basked in the El Niño-inspired, recording-breaking precipitation.
Thurmond led all revelers with its 11.1 inches in December, which nearly tripled its average (4.05) and surpassed the previous record by almost 3 inches (8.5 inches set in 2013).
Russell and Hartwell weren’t too shabby either, posting 10.8 and 9.7 inches, respectively, compared to their 4.2- and 5.2-inch averages.
After spending most of the year vacillating between highs and lows, this practice of doubling the average became, well, the new average starting in October.
This strong, late showing thanks to two winter storms and El Niño, pushed each of the sub-basins over the 60-inch annual rainfall mark.
Russell and Thurmond came extremely close to breaking their all-time annual records of 64.03 and 64.3 inches, respectively, both set in 1964; Thurmond took in 62.05 inches compared to a 46.05 average, while Russell registered 63.5 inches (average: 47.2).
This was only the fifth time Russell has broken 60 annual inches (2013, 1975, 1971 and 1964), and 2015 marked just the second time Thurmond has cracked the 60-inch benchmark.
Hartwell’s 63.6 inches seemed less impressive, relatively speaking, as it averages 59.2 inches, and this year’s total ranked 28th out of the 64 years rainfall data have been collected in the sub-basin. For perspective, Hartwell received a whopping 75.7 and 75.4 inches in 1949 and 2013, respectively.
What is impressive, though, is that just a few months ago the basin was in Drought Level 1 status; Hartwell was 8 inches below its annual average (32.1 inches vs. 40.3), while Russell and Thurmond were on par (Russell: 31.7 vs. 32.4 average; Thurmond: 33.7 vs. 32.5 average).
But in the last four months of the year, the sub-basins made up lost ground, collecting approximately the same amount of rainfall as in the first eight months, but in half the time.
Looking ahead, forecasters still predict a wetter, cooler-than-average season, so I’d keep your raincoat and galoshes close to the door this winter.
~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office