November rainfall at the projects has already exceeded the month’s averages on the heels of October’s record-setting pace.
To date, Russell outpaces the others by more than doubling its average of 3.5 inches in 12 days. Russell captured 7.4 inches, while Hartwell and Thurmond recorded 6.6 and 5.7 inches, respectively.
This week, Thurmond release rates were just shy of 30,000 cubic feet per second and will average approximately 25,000 cfs over the next few days, said Stan Simpson, a Corps water manager.
Increased outflows from Thurmond recently contributed to a rise in Savannah River levels. Some of the impacts have already been felt near Augusta with the closure of boat ramps, but Simpson said the up-tempo in rainfall and subsequent runoff will be balanced with flood management releases.
“From a seasonal perspective, [closures are] probably going to be a recurring theme through the spring,” said Simpson. “We are following the winter guide curve and providing more flood storage because there’s a very strong El Niño that has set up and is already affecting the Southeast.”
NOAA forecasters predict the El Niño pattern will bring above average rainfall to the Savannah River basin through the spring. With continued heavy rainfall predicted, Simpson said there is ample flood storage in the system and hopefully there will be no need to release water through any of the reservoir’s spillway gates.
But the reservoirs may see some temporary relief from the observed excessive rainfall as the current forecast is for less than an inch over the next week throughout the basin.
Having already eclipsed normal monthly averages with significant rainfall recorded every day to date, the sub-basins are potentially in for a record-breaking November. It will be interesting to see what kind of rainfall December and January will yield.
~Chelsea Smith, public affairs specialist