Traditionally dry October even drier than usual

Thurmond Lake is almost 14 feet below full pool. Forecasters say above-average winter rainfall is possible, but the lakes are not likely to recover soon.

One of Augusta’s traditionally driest months was even drier than usual this year, according to the National Weather Service.


Aside from showers Oct. 1 and 4, warm temperatures and clear skies left the region with just 1.46 inches – a deficit of 1.82 inches from normal rainfall.

September was also very dry, with just 1.84 inches of rain – 1.38 inches shy of the average 3.22 inches.

The prolonged dry spell has left many counties with fire danger advisories, and the Georgia Forestry Commission has suspended issuance of burn permits in many areas, including Richmond and Columbia counties.

Thurmond Lake, where 1.58 inches of October rainfall was recorded, continues to recede, with a pool level of 316.3 feet above sea level last Friday. Full pool is 330 feet above sea level – or 13.7 feet higher than current levels.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers’ drought plan, the already-reduced flows from Thurmond Dam to the Savannah River will be reduced even more – from 3,800 cubic feet per second to 3,100 – when the lake’s pool falls to 316 feet above sea level.

Some relief could be in store for the area, according to the most recent long-term forecast from Nyasha Dunkley, Georgia’s deputy state climatologist.

“The 90-day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center called for above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation due to a weak El Nino pattern expected,” she said.

Statewide, 2012 so far ranks as the sixth-warmest year on record and the warmest year since at least 1932, she said.


There will be an increased risk of uncontrolled fires through Friday, according to local emergency management officials.

According to a statement released Wednesday, the relative humidity will range from 15 to 25 percent today and about 25 percent Friday. Winds will be from the west at 15-20 mph with gusts of 25 mph on Friday.

State forestry officials say fuel moisture is low because of a lack of rainfall. No burn permits are being issued by the Columbia/Richmond County Forestry Unit until those conditions improve.

– Rob Pavey,
staff writer

Georgia Drought Map
Lake levels and predictions
National Weather Service historical data


Fri, 01/19/2018 - 18:50

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