National Weather Service Expects More Rain;
Lake O’ the Pines Plans For Continued Wet Weather
By BOB PALMER,
While authorities at Lake O’ the Pines prepare to release surplus water in coming weeks, Brandi Richardson, senior meteorologist with the Shreveport office of the National Weather Service predicts a wet winter on top of a wet fall. “For the rest of the winter, we are looking at a slight chance at being above normal for participation,” Richardson said. “There is a 33 percent chance we will be above normal for the winter.”
October and November have already proven to be above average. Shreveport data showed November with 8.33 inches. November of 2017 the amount of participation was 1.43 inches. Normal month to date for November should be at 4.32 inches. This places the area at 4.12 inches above normal. The year to day bump is also significant. In 2018 the area received 54.77 inches of participation. The normal is 46.32, an 8.45-inch surplus.
Walt Sears, general manager of North East Texas Municipal Water Supply District, has observed the rise in water levels at Lake O’ the Pines. “About 20,699-acre-feet are in the lake beyond what is used for water supply,” Sears said. “Water in the lake will be released downstream until the elevation is lowered to 228.5. Presently, the lake is about 1.1 feet above full.”
Water elevation rose in October and November due to the rain events in those months. “Please note that prior to the onset of the rain events, the lake was about 1.5 feet below the full elevation for water supply (228.5),” Sears said. “During the month of November, the peak daily release was about 1,958 cfs. The maximum amount that the lake is authorized to release is about 3,000 cfs. In November, there were several days when the lake was releasing at a rate about 2/3 of the maximum rate. The last time that the lake released near the maximum rate was in the first half of March of 2018.”
Both Richardson and Sears expect more rain. “We have a 70-75 percent chance of developing an El Nino this winter,” Richardson said. “We currently have neutral conditions that potentially could transition into El Nino. Typically, this means wetter and warmer winter months.” Richardson cautioned that El Nino is just “one piece of the puzzle.”
Richardson would not be surprised if wet conditions took a different twist. “We haven’t had a big widespread ice storm in a while,” Richardson said. “This would be a good time for folks to be thinking what to do if they are without power for a few days.”
While Richardson says heavy rains will not necessarily translate into flooding, Sears said release of surplus water from Lake O’ the Pines appears certain. “The outlook is that water will need to be released from Lake O’ the Pines during the next 60 days to lower the elevation toward 228.5,” Sears said.
“These releases will likely help the lake in managing future heavy flow conditions. The flow during the next 60 days may also create environmental benefits since the flow is sustained longer but at a lower rate than what would have occurred without the lake first holding back some of the flood flows reaching the lake.”
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