Prematurely warm weather is accelerating the return of visitors to Thurmond Lake, but sparse rainfall has left much of the basin drier than it was a year ago.
“This is supposed to be our peak lake recharge time with the highest inflows,” said Barb Shelley, the facilitator for the Friends of the Savannah River Basin advocacy group, in a newsletter sent Monday to residents and other stakeholders.
The reservoir’s average pool level this month has been 322.32 feet above sea level, about seven feet below full pool, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. By comparison, the average for March 2011 was 326.85 – more than 4.5 feet higher.
According to the National Weather Service drought forecast, the lake region remains in drought with only a 50 percent chance of slight improvement in coming months, which underscores the need for more rainfall during the next six weeks.
“It feels like June with almost a summertime Bermuda high effect over the Southeast,” Shelley said, adding that an early spring means trees and plants bloom earlier and start taking more water from the soil earlier than usual, which in turn reduces the amount of rainfall that enters the lakes as runoff.
Other portions of the state – including the Lake Lanier region – have benefited from heavier rainfall so far this year.
According to The Associated Press, Lake Lanier has rebounded to 1,065.51 feet above sea level and is expected to climb to 1,066.80 feet by April 21. The current level is well above the low of 1,057.91 feet recorded Nov. 14.