Thurmond Lake will fall an additional four feet by early September, likely triggering reduced flows into the Savannah River, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.
As of Monday, the lake’s level – 319.75 feet above sea level – was 10.25 feet below full pool, with projections that it will recede below 316 feet, the elevation that triggers more flow reductions.
Though portions of south Georgia have received enough rainfall to improve or eliminate drought conditions, extreme hot weather and lack of rainfall continue to plague east central Georgia, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which places Lincoln, Columbia and most of Richmond counties in the “exceptional” drought category – the direst classification possible.
Inflows to Thurmond Lake – a critical factor in maintaining pool levels – were only 18 cubic feet per second above the lowest levels recorded since the lake was built, according to the most recent newsletter from Friends of the Savannah River Basin, a stakeholder advocacy group.
New models from the National Climate Center indicate a 50 percent possibility of a weak El Niño weather pattern forming late in the year, which could bring more rainfall, the newsletter said.
“This is generally correlated with cooler, wetter weather during the winter recharge season if it does develop,” it said. “But for the next 90 days the drought is expected to persist or intensify for upper basin.”