Hartwell and Thurmond each collected 6.8 inches of rain in June – a full 2 and 3 inches above their averages, respectively. Russell pulled in a solid 5 inches compared to its 3.8-inch average.
While these numbers aren’t making headlines (outside of this blog, anyway), they’re definitely significant, especially for this time of year.
June isn’t normally the time for adding runoff to the reservoirs. We have to contend with higher rates of evaporation associated with higher temperatures, along with increased transpiration from plants in and around the reservoirs.
However, the 6.8 inches the Thurmond sub-basin received was its second highest tally for June since 1948. (The most it received was 7.2 inches in June 1994.) Hartwell’s take tied for 12th (Its highest came in 2005 with 10.2 inches).
In addition to these benchmarks, June marked the ninth month in the past year that Hartwell has seen average or above average rainfall. Thurmond and Russell have exceeded their averages for eight of the past 12 months. In some cases, like November and December, “above average” doesn’t even do it justice as they bested their averages by 5 or more inches.
These anomalies have contributed greatly in allowing the reservoirs to remain near full pool thus far, but reality is starting to set in now that the heat is on. Across the country (think: Alaska) and around the world temperatures (think: Europe) are soaring, and the plants, along with the humans will need more water, not less.
Our water managers’ recent July 3 projections show a slow decline in pool levels leading into next month, based on conservative estimates of rainfall and stream flows.
With any luck, we’ll still be able to coast through the summer with sweet tea and fans, but in the meantime, let’s hope the above average rainfall becomes the new norm.
~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office