By DAVID BORAKS
After several days of heavy rain, water levels around Lake Norman are above normal, prompting warnings this week from officials who manage safety on the lake. Duke Energy said it is boosting flows at its dams in the Catawba River basin, and urging lakeside residents to beware of flooding in low-lying areas.
The National Weather Service reported Tuesday morning that some residents along the river were being evacuated, especially in the area between Lake Norman and Mountain Island Lake. Fire officials said Tuesday night that about 40 homes in the Riverside community in northwest Charlotte were evacuated.
Meanwhile, the Lake Norman Marine Commission is asking boaters to avoid big wakes near shore.
More rain was in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening. And the National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the areas around Lake Norman and Mountain Island Lake, in part due to floodgate releases. The flood warning is in effect until 9:30pm.
Duke Energy said in an announcement Monday that parts of the upper Catawba River region got as much as six inches of rain in the previous three days, prompting increased water releases along the 225 mile river, 11 reservoirs and 13 hydroelectric stations.
“We have been monitoring this weather system and began moving water in advance late last week,” Randy Herrin, general manager of Duke Energy’s hydroelectric stations, said in a statement Monday. “Our focus is balancing the upper basin with the lower to minimize impacts to lakeside residents as much as possible. We also are keeping local emergency managers informed.”
At around 10am Monday, the National Weather service in Greenville-Spartanburg, SC., issued the flood warning for parts of upstate South Carolina, eastern Gaston and Lincoln counties, and western Mecklenburg County. The warning said runoff from weekend rains and floodgate releases was causing flooding.
The National Weather Service said emergency management officials were evacuating some residents along the river, especially downstream from Cowan’s Ford Dam, between Lake Norman and Mountain Island Lake. It also advised people living near the river between Mountain Island Dam and Lake Wylie should move to higher ground as the river continues to swell.
LAKE NORMAN MARINE COMMISSION STATEMENT
Duke Energy’s lake level information page showed that Lake Norman was at 99.9, where 100 means full. The target for the lake at this time of year is 98.0, according to Duke.
Mountain Island Lake was above flood stage Wednesday, at 103.5, which also was above the target of 96.0.
The Lake Norman Marine Commission warned boaters that with the lake near “full pond,” excessive wakes near shore could damage docks and other structures along the waterfront, as well as moored boats. Here’s the text of the announcement.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
RE: Extra precaution is necessary with regard to boat wakes during this period of high water on Lake Norman & the other lakes in the Catawba/Wateree river basins.
Due to the significant rainfall we have received over the past few days, Lake Norman (as well as the other lakes in the Catawba/Wateree river basins) is nearly at full pond, or in the case of some of the other lakes in the basin, above full pond.
The Lake Norman Marine Commission wishes to remind all boaters that they are responsible for the wake created by their vessel and the damage that the wake may cause. Boaters should take extra precaution with regard to boat wakes during this period of high water. Especially during periods of high water, boat wakes can cause significant damage to docks, piers, seawalls and moored water craft. It is the responsibility of all boaters to observe safe boating practices which include being aware of the lake conditions and how those conditions will mandate the operation of water vessels. Please keep these high water conditions in mind while operating any vessel on Lake Norman and the other lakes in the Catawba/Wateree basin.
Executive Director, Lake Norman Marine Commission
DUKE ENERGY STATMENT
Duke Energy Manages High Water along Catawba-Wateree
Monday, May 6, 2013
CHARLOTTE — Duke Energy continues working quickly today to move high water through the Catawba-Wateree Basin and encourages lakeside residents to use caution in low-lying and flood-prone areas.
Some areas in the upper Catawba region have received as much as six inches of rain in the last three days, requiring Duke Energy’s hydro operations team to move significant water volumes through the Catawba River’s 225 miles and chain of 11 reservoirs and 13 hydroelectric stations.
“We have been monitoring this weather system and began moving water in advance late last week,” said Randy Herrin, general manager of the hydro fleet. “Our focus is balancing the upper basin with the lower to minimize impacts to lakeside residents as much as possible. We also are keeping local emergency managers informed.”
Some Catawba reservoirs are above full pond and spilling, including Lake James, Lake Rhodhiss, Lake Hickory and Lookout Shoals. Problems with the controls that operate Oxford Dam spillway gates on Lake Hickory delayed the company’s ability to raise those gates. This caused water to spill over the auxiliary spillway, which is designed to pass high flows. There are no concerns for dam safety; the problem has been resolved, and water levels are receding.
Those interested in monitoring lake levels can view them at http://www.duke-energy.com/lakes/levels.asp, where special messages on lakes are also available. People also can call the Lake Information Line at 1-800-829-5253.
In certain low-lying neighborhoods, Duke Energy may need to disconnect electricity for safety reasons. If so, Duke Energy will provide as much notice to customers as possible. The company would reconnect those customers once local officials indicate it is safe to do so.
“High water conditions can create hazardous conditions, and we encourage residents to be alert and adhere to the advice of local emergency management officials,” Herrin said. “We appreciate our customers’ patience and cooperation while we manage these high flows.”
May 7, 2013, Weather.gov, Flood Warning.
Duke-Energy.com current lake levels page