The rains return

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Although it didn’t feel like a wet month, April delivered some much-needed, above average rainfall to a drought-ridden Savannah River Basin.

Hartwell netted 7.5 inches April Rainfall Chart(versus a 4.6-inch average), while Russell and Thurmond received 6.9 and 5.8 inches of rain, respectively (both average 3.6 inches
in April).

And though the reservoirs have begun
to respond (since March 1, Hartwell has risen 2 feet, while Thurmond has risen nearly 3 feet), the road to recovery could be
a long one unless this type of
precipitation becomes the norm.

To put these numbers in perspective: Last month was only the third time in the past 16 months that the sub-basins collected above average rainfall – the other two times were in January of this year, and August 2016.

(This statistic also doesn’t take into account that when the sub-basins were receiving less than average rainfall, it was well below the average – and in some cases like October 2016, a mere 10-11 percent of average.)

Although much April’s rainfall went to recharging the dry soils, the runoff was more responsive near the end of April compared to the beginning of the month. In a similar vein, April’s rainfall would have gotten more mileage in January.

Now, as the summer approaches, evaporation increases and growing plants take their “cut” via transpiration, which reduces the amount of water that could otherwise end up in the reservoirs.

HartAs the Doppler chart for the Hartwell sub-basin illustrates above, April’s precipitation was scattered over the entire month versus falling in concentrated episodes, which is perhaps why it felt drier than it actually was.

Another aspect of April’s precipitation worth mentioning was the rain event on April 23-24, where each of the sub-basins received 2 or more inches in a 48-hour period. These consistent, back-to-back types of rain events are key for drought recovery.

April’s average-busting rainfall was definitely a welcome sight for the basin, and perhaps it’ll be a turning point instead of just another drop in the bucket.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communication Office

About U.S. 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
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