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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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HAPPY NEW YEAR & YES IT’S STILL LOW TIDE AT KERR

Happy and pretty dry New Year from Kerr Lake.  Kerr Lake is suffering from chronic low tide.  The lake went down in September and has remained uncustomarily low around the 294-foot level for about four months.   Normal lake level is 300 feet above mean sea level.  You can see from the attached USACE graph that the current level is below all measured “should be” levels.  In preparation for at least two hurricanes the U S Army Corps of Engineers lowered the Kerr Lake level by about six feet and there hasn’t been much rainfall in the watershed since then.

The water has been so low that grass is growing on some of the normally water-covered shore.  Some dock owners like Kerr Lake Park Watch Steering Committee member Larry Matthews are taking advantage of the low tide at Kerr.

Matthews says, “If you can stand the cold,  now is a great time to work on your dock on dry land. Took these pics of our dock today in Wilson Cove just down from Hibernia with water level at 294.3′.”

All the frustration in the world will not raise the tide in Kerr Lake.  It will take rain and lots of it.  In the meantime,  you can visit one of the open parks and you can walk farther around the shoreline than ever.

Happy New Year from the more than 580 members of Kerr Lake Park Watch!

Posted in: KLPW - Boating and Related Improvements, KLPW - US ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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IT’S SPRING & THAT MEANS KERR LAKE RISES – FOR UPDATES VISIT OUR FACEBOOK PAGE.

Here we were almost showing up in the drought column in Piedmont North Carolina and Southside Virginia, then came the rains.  It’s Spring and especially during April, the showers that bring the flowers usually show up.

Kerr Lake is now over 306.5 feet above MSL (Mean Sea Level – 300′ is normal full pool) and rising, expecting to crest between 309 and 310 feet.  A number of U S Army Corps of Engineers and North Carolina State Recreation Areas are either closed or partially closed due to the high waters.  We have had no information out of DCR or the Virginia State Parks.

We are currently posting information about parks and public use areas on Kerr Lake as the information is provided to us.  As the list of boat ramps and campsites inundated by water is constantly changing we will continue to post that information on our Facebook page which you can find at www.facebook.com/kerrlakeparkwatch.

If you have camping reservations from now through the weekend, Kerr Lake Park Watch suggests that you contact the reservation system for the public park entity as individual state and federal rangers may not have the latest information.

Kerr Lake Park Watch has asked the U S Army Corps of Engineers if the QRR Plan (Quasi-Run-of-River) adopted last year will hasten the departure of the flood waters.

In the final analysis, Kerr Lake is a reservoir, not a lake.  And this, well, it’s April and the showers.  You know that story.

Photo of Nutbush area 4/26/17 by Kelly N. Blake

Posted in: KLPW - Camping Safety, KLPW - N C State Recreation Areas, 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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