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WT Staff

Tuesday May 21, 2024
Moderate drought escalates to severe drought in St. Lawrence River watershed

May 21, 2024 updated 432 pm EDT

Hazardous Weather statement issued by NWS for Albany NY 418 am May 21, 24
There is a chance for thunderstorms this afternoon for northern parts of the area. There is a marginal risk for severe storms across portions of the Adirondacks and upper Hudson Valley, with the main hazards being gusty winds and hail.

There is a chance for thunderstorms tomorrow and again on Thursday for most of the region. A few stronger storms with gusty winds and hail are possible in the western Mohawk Valley and Adirondacks Wednesday and for areas south and east of Albany on Thursday.

Impacting Northern Herkimer-Hamilton-Southern Herkimer-Southern Fulton-Montgomery-Northern Saratoga-Northern Warren- Northern Washington-Schoharie-Western Schenectady-Eastern Schenectady-Southern Saratoga-Western Albany-Eastern Albany-Western Rensselaer-Eastern Rensselaer-Western Greene-Eastern Greene-Western Columbia-Eastern Columbia-Western Ulster-Eastern Ulster-Western Dutchess-Eastern Dutchess-Northern Fulton-Southeast Warren-Southern Washington Counties.

Current Streamflow Situation - Escalating Drought
Much below seasonal normal streamflows dominate the north Tuesday as the drought rating has escalated overnight to severe through the Raquette River channel of the St. Lawrence watershed. Severe drought area begins at north central Hamilton County, catches the southwest corner of Franklin and southeast St.Lawrence Counties, runs through central St Lawrence County along the Raquette River to the outlet at St. Lawrence River. The area of St. Lawrence River watershed rated below normal yesterday has blown up into moderate drought, including all the area west of Raquette River. Black River and Upper Hudson remain at the below normal rating. Just one small area outside of the north is marked up on the drought map for 7-day average streamflows below the seasonal normal. Niagara River-Lake Erie watershed section along the east side of Chautauqua County, parallel to Lake Erie is below normal again today.

Below normal streamflow ratings continue to creep across the watersheds of New York State Tuesday reflecting a widespread drying trend. The highest streamflow ratings observed anywhere in the network today are seasonal normal. The number of normal rated sites is dropping overall, while the below normal and much below normal ratings take over at more monitoring sites. Two stations record extreme low flow Tuesday, one in the severe drought rated area, and one on Long Island flagged previously as potentially malfunctioning. Raquette River is recorded flowing at a 1st percentile volume and depth at Raymondville, near the outlet. Raquette River collects surface water runoff from 1125 square miles of northern NYS. Today we see the lowest recorded flow at this location for this date in 68 years of monitoring.

WT USA Flows and Flood Tracker provisional data from the network of USGS streamflow monitors

Exposing the climate contrast as observed in the four states of WT US Bureau, Georgia and Louisiana continue to flood while parts of northern New York state drop into severe drought mode Tuesday. As of this report, sixty-two sites record flooding in the USA with nineteen of these being inside the WT coverage area. Georgia has taken on another monitored flooding location, going from eight to nine overnight. Louisiana has retired one flood event today, down to ten still flooding.

Georgia: Flooding has expanded in the Atlantic Ocean basin, flooding observed at a fourth location in the Satilla River watershed overnight. Flood stage was breached on the Satilla River near Waycross around 230 am this morning, this flow currently recorded at three inches above the channel and rising. By the time Satilla River reaches the monitor near Waycross, it is armed with the surface runoff from an area of 1240 square miles of south Ben Hill, east Irwin, Coffee, west Pierce and north Ware Counties. This water is now measured at over sixteen feet deep, running a provisional measurement of 6680 cubic feet per second Three more streamflow monitors record flooding in the area including one station upstream on the Satilla River at GA 158, and two tributaries, the Alabaha River flooding at GA203 near Blackshear and Little Satilla River flooding near Offerman. Also in the Atlantic basin, Savannah River has leveled off a foot and a half above the channel near Cylo. Across the state divide into the Gulf of Mexico basin, Ochlockonee River has ceased flooding at US 188 near Coolidge, now flooding near Thomasville and downstream near Concord, FL. Withlachoochee River remains above flood stage at Skipper Bridge Rd near Bemiss and at US84 near Quitman. See black tags indicating flow volume and gauge height, blue tags for 99th percentile flows updated daily here.

Louisiana has retired another flood site this morning. Region 2 Little River is no longer flooding near Rochelle. Ten flood events remain on the radar for LA late Tuesday morning. Region 4 Sabine River continues to run four feet over the channel near Bon Wier, TX and three feet, three inches over near Ruliff, TX. Calcasieu River continues to overflow a foot and nine inches over the channel in the upper basin near Glenmora, currently recorded on a steady declining flow trend. The moderate flood status of Calcasieu River has just passed, dropping into minor flood stage around 9 am this morning near Oberlin. Flooding near the downstream monitor near Kinder runs two feet above the channel, on the decline. Elsewhere in Louisiana, Region 1's Bayou Bodcau continues a slow descent presently two and a half feet out of the basin near Shreveport. Watershed Region 5 flooding carries on at LA-190, Bayou Nezpique runs nine inches over minor flood stage near Basile with Mermentau River flooding to the south, still more than half a foot over at Mermentau. In Region 7, Pearl River runs a foot and three inches out of the channel at both stations, near Bogulusa and at the Town of Pearl River. See black tags indicating flow volume and gauge height, blue tags for 99th percentile flows updated daily here.

As many drinking water facilities are supplied from surface water reservoirs, the streamflow situation is pertinent to both drinking water supply and quality. High flows can stir up sediment and cause turbidity in the reservoirs, requiring additional treatments to render the water potable. Low flow volume is linked to warmer temperatures in the reservoir and can be an issue for water quality where HABs are present. WT tracks streamflow trends with an eye to the impacts on drinking water supply and quality in each of the state's watersheds. Check the watershed layer on the map to see the direction of flow and streamflows that may be impacting drinking water today.

USGS Provisional Data Statement
Data are provisional and subject to revision until they have been thoroughly reviewed and received final approval. Current condition data relayed by satellite or other telemetry are automatically screened to not display improbable values until they can be verified.
Provisional data may be inaccurate due to instrument malfunctions or physical changes at the measurement site. Subsequent review based on field inspections and measurements may result in significant revisions to the data.
Data users are cautioned to consider carefully the provisional nature of the information before using it for decisions that concern personal or public safety or the conduct of business that involves substantial monetary or operational consequences. Information concerning the accuracy and appropriate uses of these data or concerning other hydrologic data may be obtained from the USGS.

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