Time was winding down. Expectations, hopes, dreams, all on the line. And then … thud. Regardless of which team you were rooting for, March’s rainfall for the Savannah River Basin was a resounding brick as the month expired.
On average it’s the wettest month, but this year the combined observed rainfall for all three sub-basins (5.6 inches) was still less than Hartwell’s average for March (5.8 inches).
Russell and Thurmond (2.1 and 2.0 inches, respectively) fared slightly better than Hartwell (1.54) but were still under 45 percent of their averages (4.8 and 4.7, respectively).
All this inaction on the heels of a highly touted El Niño – the strongest since 1950 – is telling: The kid seems to have run out of steam.
Indeed, in their most recent Water Resource Outlook, climatologists at the Southeast River Forecast Center said El Niño appears to be weakening.
They accurately predicted the last week in March would be wet, but not enough to make up for the unusually dry conditions that have pervaded since February.
Each of the sub-basins got a jump start on April Fools’ Day (Thurmond received 1.4 inches that day), which make the prospects that they might actually rebound this month hopeful.
The silver lining for all this disappointing dryness, though, is that we can expect stable reservoir levels for the next several weeks.
Each year around this time, spawning takes precedence as biologists and water managers coordinate to keep the reservoirs as stable as possible.
The level pools give largemouth bass, which have a critical role in maintaining a balance in fish populations, the best chance for success during spawning season.
According to James Sykes, a fisheries biologist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, the spawning season started March 23, which was about a week earlier than usual, because of the warmer than average water temperatures.
Sykes and other biologists will continue to monitor spawning activity and inform water managers when the season is over. The season is expected to last through the end of April to early May.
~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office