The waters of Kerr Lake are still rising here on Monday night, just four nights away from one of the biggest camping, picnicking, boating and grilled foods weekends of the year, the extended Memorial Day Weekend.
With rains pouring in again this evening, there’s a good chance that the level of Kerr Lake will rise above the 308.5-foot level, and depending on how much rain, the lake could go higher.
Affecting the North Carolina side with the seven NC State Recreation areas which are lower in elevation, the waters of Kerr Lake rose over two feet last night hitting 307.5 ft (above mean sea level) today around noon. Several campers have been moved to other sites on the NC side because the electrical boxes must be pulled and according to NC State Parks, Bullocksville and Henderson Point parks were completely shut down today.
Campers on this loop may have no where to camp this holiday weekend.
Contacted by Kerr Lake Park Watch, the US Army Corps of Engineers said today that the much sought after QRR Plan (Quasi-Run-of-River), which allows for larger releases of water from Kerr and the lower lakes. The Corps had been releasing 15,000 CFS (cubic feet per second) but has upped that to 25,000 and for the rest of this week, 35,000 CFS.
Inflows were slowing until most of the Kerr watershed received another dumping of rain this evening.
This is part of the hourly Kerr Lake measurements of water levels by the USACE: 1st column – date; 2nd column – time (24hr); 3rd column – inflows to Kerr in CFS; 4th column – outflow from Kerr in CFS; 5th column – Kerr Lake level at that hour
Commenting on the large and heavy inflows to Kerr Lake, Ashley Hatchell, Water Resources Management with the Corps said, “The last week has produced a tremendous amount of rain (see graphic below – view in html), pushing river flows above flood stage and resulting in inflows into Kerr over 80,000 CFS for most of Saturday and Sunday. Dan and Roanoke River flows, and thus inflows into Kerr, have peaked, but there is still plenty of water being stored in the lake.”
Hatchell added, “Anticipate a peak elevation nr 308.5 ft tonight/Tuesday. We are increasing this week’s declaration to initiate 25,000 CFS releases tomorrow, followed by 35,000 CFS releases beginning Wednesday through middle of next week. Even with this increase, we will possibly be near 305.5 – 306 feet (above mean sea level) next Friday, based on forecast inflows.
For any of the parks with low-lying camp sites, picnic areas, swimming areas and boat ramps, that could mean canceling plans. Several public roads outside the parks are also affected and will continue to be affected this weekend.
In Hibernia Park, for instance, all 148 campsites in Areas 1, 2 and 3 are booked this weekend. Those in Area 3 which is a much lower elevation, mostly like will not open back for the holiday weekend.
The drop from what ever level Kerr Lake reaches by Friday will still leave some campsites under water or without power.
If you do not know your camping spot you’re going to on Kerr or you know your camping spot is normally very close to the water, you should call the agency which oversees the particular park you’re going to visit. That could be the US Army Corps of Engineers, NC State Parks or possibly Virginia State Parks, although those parks are not as susceptible to flooding.
If you are coming to Kerr Lake, particularly to boat, some of the closed boat ramps may open by the Memorial Day weekend, but you should remember two important things:
- DANGER – the water is much higher than normal and driving a watercraft close to shore is dangerous if you are unfamiliar with your location on the lake.
- DANGER – because of high waters, there are a lot of floating debris on the lake, including but not limited to logs, trees and trash.
Take time to find out the status of the location for your Kerr Lake activities and then enjoy and be safe.