Suwannee River Water Management District Release:
An additional 6-10” of rainfall fell in the Withlacoochee and Alapaha river basins in the last 5 days, resulting in the potential for flooding on those rivers and further rises on the Suwannee River.
The Alapaha and Withlacoochee Rivers are major tributaries of the Suwannee River. More than half of the watershed contributing to the Suwannee River lies in Georgia. In March and April of 2009, more than 16” of rain fell in Georgia over 10 days, causing major flooding downstream in north Florida. The recent storms were generally not as intense as 2009, and flooding of the severity seen in 2009 in Florida is not expected.
River forecasts are issued by the Southeast River Forecast Center near Atlanta. The Withlacoochee River near Pinetta is expected to crest below flood stage early next week, while the Alapaha River near Statenville should crest near flood stage this weekend .The Suwannee River at Ellaville, downstream of where both rivers flow into Suwannee, is expected to rise at least another 10 feet in the next week, but a rise above flood stage on the Suwannee is not expected at this time. In the longer term, the rising Suwannee should cause the Santa Fe River to back up, as it did in 2008 and 2009. The forecast for the Santa Fe River at Three Rivers Estates calls for a crest below flood stage next week.
Megan Wetherington, the Suwannee River Water Management District’s hydrologist, said that while severe flooding is not expected, people with interests on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee rivers should monitor forecasts closely for the next several days.
“The intensity and timing of local rainfall between river gages can cause unforeseen impacts. It’s best to wait a few days to see how the Georgia gages crest before letting your guard down. Every flood is different,” Wetherington said. “It takes 8 to 10 days for the crest to travel from the Georgia border to Branford, so people farther down the Suwannee have time to watch and make decisions as the forecasts become more definitive.”
Locally, 4 -6” fell in Madison, Hamilton, and Suwannee counties. This rainfall will not impact the rivers significantly, but will improve aquifer conditions. Conditions on the upper Suwannee around White Springs will continue to improve, after falling to extremely low levels in the last month.
Elsewhere, the Aucilla River in Madison and Jefferson counties also received more than 6” of rain. Minor flooding is expected, with a crest above flood stage later this week.
The District provides daily flood forecasts to the public. Visit the District’s webpage www.mysuwanneeriver.com and look for Flooding Information & Updates.