If October’s precipitation were words, this page would be blank.
Last week Halloween came and went and the sub-basins tallied little more than a third of an inch for the month combined.
Compared to the rest of the year, October is typically a dry month.
Hartwell and Thurmond average 4 and 3 inches, respectively, but last month they received 0.44 and 0.35 inches, respectively. Russell, which averages 3.2 inches, got a meager 0.18 inches.
The precipitation was so scant in fact, that rounding to the nearest tenth of an inch could be considered distortion.
Having a bad month is one thing – and each of the sub-basins has seen worse in previous Octobers: Hartwell with 0.05 inches in 2012, and Thurmond with 0.11 inches in 2000; Russell tied its previous low of 0.18 in 1963.
However, having yet another dry month in a string of low precipitation months can seem devastating.
Clemson University, which has been recording rainfall since 1896, recorded the lowest amount of rainfall from January to October at 25.93 inches this year.
Residents along the Savannah River, especially those living on or near Corps’ reservoirs, have been acutely aware of the impact precipitation can have on the economy and even morale.
Harry Shelley, a co-facilitator for Friends of the Savannah River Basin (based near Thurmond Lake), described the general feeling among his organization.
“Right now, most people understand, we only got a half inch of rain,” Shelley said. “But the management of the Savannah River Basin isn’t just Thurmond, it’s a system, and has to be managed as a system.”
Shelley communicates mostly via email with the members of his organization and with other organizations like the Lake Hartwell Association. He stressed the importance of informing the public, especially those new to the area, about the hazards associated with lower than normal lake levels.
“People still can use the lake, but you have to start being careful,” Shelley said. “You can’t just zip along the shore at 20-30 knots without consequence.”
According to Joe Melton, Natural Resource Program manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District, staff members at each Corps project have a list of major hazards and at which water level they become hazards. As the water levels drop, they locate and mark those hazards.
In addition, the staff marks hazards reported by the public.
“The number one thing is for boaters to watch out for underwater obstructions,” Melton said. “(Because of the lower lake levels) there might be new hazards exposed, or something hidden just under the surface.”
~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office