What an exciting year we’ve had in the Savannah River Basin. In the past year, we’ve seen the reservoirs go from drought to flood conditions in the first six months, and we ended the year with high water conditions in December—while setting new rainfall records along the way.
In fact, 2013 ranked the second-wettest year on record for both the Hartwell and Thurmond sub-basins. We recorded 75.4 inches of rain for the year at Hartwell—coming very close to the record set in 1949 with 75.7 inches. We recorded 58.6 inches of rainfall at Thurmond in 2013. The record for Thurmond was set in 1964 with 64.3 inches. At Russell, 2013 ranked the fourth wettest year. The record year for Russell was in 1964 with 64 inches.
Also in 2013, July set a new record for rainfall at all three reservoirs. Hartwell Lake received 13.37 inches, Russell Lake received 9.97 inches and Thurmond Lake received 9.42 inches. In fact, July 2013 was one of the wettest months in the upper basin since 1948.
And most recently, December set a new record for Thurmond with the most December rainfall on record (8.5 inches).
The graph below shows annual average rainfall at both Hartwell and Thurmond over the last 10 years. The drought of record (from 2007 to 2009) experienced rain deficits as low as 31.7 inches at Hartwell and 32.8 inches at Thurmond in 2007. If you compare those numbers to 2013 rainfall, Hartwell received 138 percent more and Thurmond received 79 percent more in 2013 than the driest year in the drought of record (2007).
As we enter 2014, the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecast remains neutral. This means there is no sign of going into a La Niña (dry) pattern or El Niño (wet) pattern. Every major drought we’ve had has been during a La Niña pattern. Therefore, forecasters suggest a comfortable probability that conditions will remain neutral throughout the spring. This forecast, of course, is only an educated guess of the National Weather Service. As last spring and summer indicated, forecasts don’t always materialize to reality.
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~Tracy Robillard, Public Affairs Specialist