View Full Version : Rain.. Rain... Rain!!!!

09-11-2007, 02:42 PM
Yes yes yes... Keep on coming rain. We're getting a good steady rain in Knoxville today. We could use another 15-20 days of this steady rain to help restore the water table levels. I have been wanting to fish in the mountains for weeks now but just can't bring myself to do it because of how low the streams are. I was talking with a friend from Brazil and his parents live in a part of the country where there was a serious drought 5 years ago. He told me that the water table still has not recovered from that. My feeling is that it could take almost a decade for the GSMNP to recover from this.

Looks like I'll be heading to the tail waters to fish. At least the generating has gone down so I can wade in.

09-11-2007, 03:14 PM
Rain, Im coming down to go fishing this friday. Hope it continues throughout today

09-11-2007, 11:53 PM
It rained in Knoxville pretty much all day. It was a good steady rain. It's nice and cool in town tonight so I'm pretty sure the mountains are getting some good cool temps right now. If we keep getting showers all week like they're predicting you'll be in for some good fishing this weekend.

09-12-2007, 12:44 AM
It won't take a decade - no need to go apocalyptic...but it will take a couple of wet winters to build the water table back up. In the meantime, the streams are at the mercy of the rainfall patterns - the ones that get the rain will be ok, and the others won't. Also, some watersheds seem to have "more in the tank" than others - in other words, some have better aquifers and more numerous, higher headwaters, etc. For example, some of the streams we fished this summer on the N.C. side seemed to be doing fine, or at least ok, while Little River really suffered. That's to be expected - the mountains cause a lot of local complexities in the weather patterns, far more so than in a place like here on the gulf coast.

What the mountains need is a return to a wet winter pattern - the steady overall rains of that time of year. Right now, the long-range forecasts call for an equal chance of above or below average precipitation, so we really don't know at this point.

09-12-2007, 03:53 PM
LOL!! Apocolyptic. The reason I say almost a decade is because we haven't had the typical wet winters of East TN in the last 3-5 years. I don't think anyone knows. We won't know how long it will take until we're there. I've read where the Lost Sea is down 15-20 feet and they're having to build custom walkways/ramps to get people down to the boats.

"Right now, the long-range forecasts call for an equal chance of above or below average precipitation, so we really don't know at this point"

I find that statement rather amusing.

09-12-2007, 08:54 PM
I find that statement rather amusing.

What's so amusing about that statement? I simply reported what the NWS long-range forecasts indicated - an equal chance of either above or below normal precipitation. Most of the country falls under that situation; it is incredibly difficult to maintain accuracy in a forecast much beyond 72 hours, much less months into the future. With that being said, the NWS is now saying that the Smokies are projected to have another drier than average winter, although not as dry as points south and east. This is predicated on the belief that we are entering a La Nina period in the eastern Pacific; while signs do point to below-average SSTs in that region, there is still a lot of debate as to whether one will materialize or not - La Nina events seem to happen with less frequency than El Nino events. So, it is a situation of "wait and see".

As for taking a decade to recover - a few points to consider. I went on the Huntsville NWS site a while back, and some of their stations are reporting as much as a 50 inch rainfall deficit for a three-year period...indeed, the region has been in a dry cycle for the past three years. 50 inches sounds like a lot, but if the region averages between 15-20 inches of extra rainfall a year for the next few years, the deficit will be wiped out. Of course, the catch is getting that extra rainfall, but that extra amount works out to a little more than an inch extra per month. Also, the Huntsville region is a karst region, just like much of the rest of the Tennessee Valley; a lot of water percolates through the limestone into caves, etc. I have no doubt that the Lost Sea is suffering some from the drought, but I wouldn't discount growing demands on the water table from growth in the valley - I've seen quite a few new housing developments in our trips to and from the Smokies this year. Furthermore, I don't think the mountains will take as long to catch up due to their geology; in other words, the mountains don't have the aquifers the valley has to begin with, so it won't take as long to recharge them. Right now, the soils are very dry, but a good soaking will go a long way to allowing the streams to recharge, once the trees drink in their fill.

Finally, when you speak of recovering - what is being referred to? I can see some specific crops taking a long time to recover. Down here, we have a pretty good citrus crop from Plaquemines Parish, south of New Orleans. A good freeze (or 30 feet of storm surge from Katrina) can easily set back the groves for 10 years, or more. If we are talking about the streams, and specifically the trout populations - it won't take too long to recover. The life cycle of fish in these infertile streams is already compressed - higher than average mortality (which has definitely happened in some areas, like Little River) will make more room for the survivors and their spawning classes. Next spring should tell us a lot. As for fishing during the drought, I realize that it is an emotional topic - most of us want what's best for the resource, or at least I hope so. From what I've seen this summer, it really depends on the stream. We found some streams, particularly on the N.C. side of the park, to be doing pretty well - and that figures, since the N.C. side has received more rain than the Tennessee side. Little River, which is a particular focus of a lot of people on this forum, has suffered. One has to see how the flow is doing, and monitor the temperature, to determine if it is fishable. If we could count on every fish hooked as being legal size, it wouldn't be such an issue - just take home what you catch. However, there are a lot of fish below the seven inch minimum, so ethics come in to play...if there is a better than average chance that the fish you catch will go belly up when released, should one continue to fish that stream? I would think not. Again, it all depends on the watershed in question - some are ok, and others are not.

09-12-2007, 09:04 PM
I don't disagree with you at all. You're spot on. I was referring to the streams and wildlife in the mountains. I think that 3-5 years is a good guestimate but another year or two of this and a decade for recovery isn't too far of the map either.

The reason I find that amusing is that they are really saying nothing but agreeing to everything. It's like saying "It could rain tomorrow or it couldn't." The "above to below average" is a HUGE general statement in my book. Weather is that way though. We've gotten pretty good at predicting the weather with technology. But, the East TN valley is supposedly the hardest place to predict weather from what I've read. Hardest as compared to what? I'm not sure, but I would agree that it is a difficult place to predict weather.

09-12-2007, 09:28 PM
I can believe that it's very difficult...you have a lot of topography features which can have a major effect. This summer, I've made it a minor pastime to check the Morristown radar several times a day; without fail, if there was any rainfall in the area, it tended to be on the N.C. side, and it would literally rain right up to the state line, at the crest of the Smokies, and stop. I've seen it time and again. The interesting thing is, this last batch of rain (yesterday) did just the opposite; most of the rain was on the Tennessee side, and the N.C. side got relatively little. There has to be a good reason for this pattern, given the prevailing winds, etc.

There's a chance that the mountains might get a decent soaking from the remnants of this weak tropical storm (Humberto) that's about to make landfall in Texas...however, the models are all over the place on this one - some of them have it drifting over the gulf south and then back into the open gulf. The major steering currents are starting to break down, now that we're into September, so it's a bit harder to project where these tropical systems will go.

As for other types of wildlife - I could see the bigger land animals having a rough go of it - the bears and the deer. I don't know what sort of acorn crop there's going to be this year. The fish, though, won't take long to bounce back, because everything in the life cycle with them is sped up - a brook trout can be completely sexually mature and only be 4 or 5 inches long.

I am hoping for a bit of rain this month and next month...I would like to fish the Smokies during the one time of year I haven't fished there - the peak of fall.

David Knapp
09-12-2007, 11:01 PM
The trend of the Tennessee side always getting less has been more of a situation that happened this summer and tends to be a late summer pattern when the flow is coming from the Atlantic instead of the Gulf. Basically it depends on the exact location of the "Bermuda" high which has been centered much farther west than normal for an extended period. In short, the moist flow off the Atlantic hits the mountains, rises, produces precip, and then as it crests the ridge, it starts to sink. Sinking air is stabilizing air and also sinking air is drying air...hence the lack of rain in east TN even when the NC side is getting dumped on. The usual (read non-drought year) situation involves more of a southerly flow to southwest flow where the gulf is a bigger player in our weather. Its been interesting to watch the dewpoints this summer as they have consistently been way lower than is normal for a summer weather pattern in TN. Its because the best gulf moisture has been streaming into the central portions of the country, coincidentally producing flooding rains for a large part of the middle of the country.

Also, something we need to remember is that we can get our water tables back to normal without getting "caught up" on the deficits. It will take several very wet weather systems over an extended period but things can be back to "normal" (whatever that is) without completely catching up to three years of being behind on precip...

09-12-2007, 11:13 PM
Sinking air is stabilizing air and also sinking air is drying air....

And, in that situation, sinking air is also increasingly heated air, which in turn adds to the drying...etc, etc. Excellent description of the situation. "Normally", the Atlantic Ridge fluctuates a great deal in its westward position - this year, it has more or less parked itself just to the east of us here in Louisiana, so we've had a fair flow out of the gulf and more or less "normal" rainy summer, with the exception of the beginning of August.

The ridge is starting to break down now, which is both good and bad news...good news in the sense that the mountains might start seeing some of that gulf flow...bad news in that we won't have that blocking high down here for protection.