Evidence continues to point to wet winter for the basin

Last week, climatologists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued their winter outlook for 2015-2016.

Based on their predictions, the southern U.S. can expect a cooler, wetter winter, whereas the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes regions should experience drier, warmer conditions. Areas in between have equal chances of getting warm or cool and either wet or dry weather.

For the Savannah River Basin that should translate into above average rainfall in the coming months, much like the region experienced in 1997-98 winter season, which was precipitated by similar strong El Niño conditions.

That winter and spring, El Niño kept water managers on their toes forcing them to resort to “flood fighting” to consistently keep water levels below the max 665.00 ft-msl level and equivalent for Thurmond.

Hartwell lake levels overlaid onto a bar graph showing observed and average monthly rainfall for Aug. 1997-July 1998.

Hartwell lake levels overlaid onto a bar graph showing observed and average monthly rainfall for Aug. 1997-July 1998.

As the graphic to the right shows, the reservoirs were in Drought Level 1 by late October 1997, but average rainfall for November and December still contributed to pushing it back above the guide curve.

Then, above average rain in January and February (and later in April) forced water managers to flood fight.

Of course, anything could happen this winter, and this prediction is only the most likely outcome. Still, when you start packing up your summer clothes, I’d keep that raincoat out.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

About US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multimillion dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on Facebook.com/SavannahCorps
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