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HIGH WATER AT KERR LAKE PROMISES TO FOUL SOME MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND CAMPING & OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, Uncategorized

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RAINS RAISE WATER LEVEL IN GUAGES, KERR LAKE’S LEVEL & QUESTIONS ABOUT LAKE VISITOR’S PLANS

“I remember the first time an out-of-state visitor asked me about high and low tides at Kerr Lake. I laughed until I cried.” Comment from Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake, who offers this information about the tide going up this weekend at Kerr Lake.
 
“We’ve had an update from the US Army Corps of Engineers that due to recent rains, many very heavy in the Roanoke River Basin, the lake levels are going up,” said Timberlake. There’s no need for serious concern or cancellations at this point, but they’re (USACE) expecting Kerr Lake to hit 306 feet above mean sea level by sometime Monday, if the rains continue.”
 
Ashley Hatchell, Water Resources Manager with the US Army Corps of Engineers said, “Heavy rain is in the basin and more is forecast for today and tomorrow. Rivers are responding and inflows are starting to increase into the lakes. The following shows the 7-day total rainfall on the basin. Totals are near 2-4 inches basin-wide, with higher amounts in various locations.”
Hatchell added that lake goers should expect a peak near 306 ft Monday if rainfall forecast materializes. The Corps will begin 15,000 cfs (cubic feet per second) releases Monday (increased from 9,000 cfs as were requested in the original declaration), to address the rain that has already fallen. Further increases may be needed in releases next week to manage lake levels. The Corps will revise the declaration on Monday to adjust if necessary.
 
As of 5:00 PM today, Kerr Lake’s level had risen to 301.58. Forecasts change and changes in releases constantly change the lake level. People with plans at the public facilities along the shore of Kerr Lake this weekend and next Memorial Day weekend should check the lake level from time to time.

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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KERR LAKE LEVEL RECEDES FROM 307.5 DOWN TO UNDER 305 FEET – HEADING BACK TO NORMAL

The water is coming down at Kerr Lake! As of the last hour, the lake is at 304.76 feet above mean sea level. The normal full pool level is 300 feet.

There are still some boat ramps, campsites, public areas and local roads affected, so if you are in doubt, call your local public agency in charge of the public area you plan to visit, being either the US Army Corps of Engineers, North Carolina State Parks or Virginia State Parks.

Recent rain from Hurricane Matthew brought Kerr up to 307.5 ft. (7.5 ft. into the flood pool). Inflows into Kerr are averaging 35,000 cfs from the storm over the last 7 days (peak hourly inflow close to 90,000 cfs). So there were inflows into Kerr that would support the maximum flood release of 35,000 cfs allowed under our revised flood operations (QRR) or Quasi-Run-of-River.  However, in consideration of the recent rain and flooding along the lower Roanoke (2 significant events in 2 1/2 weeks), The Corps did not raise declared releases from Kerr during the past two weeks, but has now made significant release increases to bring the lake level back close to the normal or guide curve.

“We supported the Corps using Kerr Lake for one of its main intents, that of flood control,” said Public Affairs Lead for Kerr Lake Park Watch, Frank Timberlake, adding, “Those people downstream in North Carolina did not need more water until their flood waters subsided to a good degree.  We think the Corps used best management practices to their best on this pretty horrific weather event.”

Timberlake added, “We at Kerr Lake Park Watch want to remind people, especially boaters that with high water often there comes what we call floaters in the water, trees and debris.  All lake visitors returning to Kerr should have a watchful eye on the water for such.”

Kerr Lake is expected to be fully recovered by this coming weekend.

 

Posted in: KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - WATER RELATED, KLPW - Water Safety

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS APPROVES & ENACTS QRR PLAN FOR KERR LAKE

Groups that support best use practices for Kerr Lake and the Roanoke River Basin are smiling this week as the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced the approval of the QRR Plan that will allow more responsive actions for handling future huge weather and subsequent flood events.  Stakeholders, representing groups like the RRBA (Roanoke River Basin Association), Kerr Lake Park Watch, Vance County Tourism Development Authority and others, like the idea of Kerr Lake being kept at a more consistent level by the QRR or Quasi-Run-of-River Plan. And downstream, supporters want the water to come through at a faster pace and move on out quicker.

Kerr Lake Dam - Lower side USACE PIC

U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Photo

With recent heavy weather/rain systems threatening this past Memorial Day’s recreational activities like camping in the parks around Kerr Lake, several groups pushed to have special action taken by the commanding colonel of the Corps, but such action is rare and it did not happen. From the viewpoint of Kerr Lake Park Watch and tourism supporters, when park users can’t get to or on a site due to high water, particularly around a holiday, that is difficult in a number of ways.

During the Memorial Day holiday such an occurrence happened when some campers were moved and others were sent home. Although most of the time there are an abundance of camping sites that number about 1,200 all the way around the lake, there is a critical shortage of electric and water sites which nearly all campers want nowadays.   Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Frank Timberlake was one of those who had to be moved during the Memorial Day holiday, “We all were eagerly awaiting some intervention for larger water releases by Wilmington (Corps) or both the approval and adoption of the QRR and neither happened then. So I am personally watching the water creep to within 20 feet or so of my camper after I had already moved once.”

Switching gears from camper to parks promoter, Timberlake said of the Corps’ adoption of QRR, “This is monumental and one of the most positive flood operational changes that I’ve ever witnessed for the John H. Kerr Dam and Reservoir. We realize how many different and differently postured stakeholders are involved in the day-to-day operations of Kerr; there are flood managers, power companies, agricultural and forestry entities, fish and wildlife representatives and groups that specifically care about the parks around the lake and groups that are focused on the river(s). The Corps has listened. The Corps has responded. And many, many have won. Our joy is quieted a bit by the recent passing of Andrew Lester, the Executive Director of the RRBA who pushed diligently for this and other good things for the Roanoke River basin. I wish he could have seen it enacted.”

In a statement, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers outlined the specifics of QRR or moving the water through the system at a more realistic amount and pace, “Previously during really wet times, like we experienced this past winter, long periods of 20,000 cubic feet per second (CFS) flood releases from Kerr and Roanoke Rapids Dams were possible,” said Wilmington District Water Management Chief, Tony Young. “Prolonged 20,000 CFS flood releases were causing harm to the lower Roanoke floodplain forest ecosystem due to long periods of standing water, as well as impacting timber operations and recreational access to the floodplain. Only when Kerr lake levels were extremely high could flood releases be further increased to 25,000 and eventually 35,000 CFS, but this did not occur very often.”

Young added that under the QRR plan, flood releases will more closely mimic the natural inflows coming into Kerr on a weekly basis and may be increased above 20,000 CFS on a more frequent basis-up to a maximum of 35,000 CFS for larger storm events. While these higher releases will inundate a larger portion of the floodplain, these higher releases will be made for a much shorter period of time, allowing the river downstream of Roanoke Rapids to return to normal much sooner. In addition, lake levels in Kerr may not get as high and will return to normal levels sooner, allowing Kerr to better handle the next flood event and reducing recreation impacts.

Timberlake added that wildlife downstream was featured in discussions but Kerr Lake wildlife factors in as well, “We saw firsthand Memorial Day weekend that when we lost campsites to water at 308 (feet above mean sea level – 300’ is normal full pool) we also saw a huge amount of displaced wildlife: deer in unexpected places, more raccoon, fox and snake sightings. But we’re all going to take a big step forward now with QRR as the water will be more manageable, so shall the shores and the parks on them, thus making Kerr Lake Park Watch a group of happy campers.”

 

Posted in: KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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CORPS OF ENGINEERS ANNOUNCES HIGH WATER CLOSURES

(Boydton, VA)   Recent heavy rainfall has caused the Kerr Lake level to rise to +308 feet mean sea level. This rise has resulted in the closure of some park areas and ramps. The following is a list of the areas that are currently affected.

Areas managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers that are closed so far are: Palmer Point Beach, Liberty Hill Fishing Access, Rudd’s Day Use, Bluestone Ramp, Staunton View Day Use, Buffalo Ramp, Grassy Creek Park, Ivy Hill Day Use, and North Bend Handicap Pier.

Ramps managed by NC Division of Parks and Recreation that are closed are:

Kimball Point Ramp, JC Cooper Ramp, Nutbush Areas 1 & 3 (Tournament Ramp is OPEN),

Henderson Point Campground Ramp and Ramp at Shelter #2, and Henderson Point Wildlife Ramp.

For campers, NC Parks advises that if you had reservations at Kerr Lake starting May 6th, please contact Reserve America at 1-877-722-6762/or on-line to find out if your reservation will be effected by the flooding. They may be able to accommodate current reservations by moving them to other campsites not effected by rising waters. This will affect on-line reservations until Tuesday May 17th, 2016.

For camping with the Corps of Engineers, if you have reservations at Rudd’s Creek or Longwood, please call Recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777 or go online to see if your site is available. For Buffalo Park, all water front sites are closed.

For more information please call any park ranger at (434) 738-6143.

In the weekly meeting this morning, the Corps meteorologist expressed concern about another weather system that he is watching that if it hangs up like the last one, could cause concern to Kerr Lake.

Posted in: KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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