Officials say on a normal day at Okatibbee Lake's est bank beach, the water would normally come up to an adult woman's chin. But now, it wouldn't even touch her feet. Lack of rainfall this year has dried up portions of the reservoir.
"We can't open our beaches because there's no water. We haven't closed any of our boat ramps to date, but we are looking to some that we might have to close," said Jack Huntley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which oversees the Okatibbee Reservoir.
For this time of year, Huntley says the water in the beach area alone is five feet below where it needs to be.
"Sandbars are starting to show up. Stumps are showing up," said Huntley.
Huntley says with conditions so dry a sufficient amount of rain is needed and soon. He says it's not just how much rain the lake receives that makes the difference, but how often as well.
"Some people say, you got two inches two weeks ago. Well, we needed two inches behind that. If we do not get sufficient amounts of rain, we will not be able to open our beaches this year," Huntley said.
However, for now Huntley says with sufficient rain the beaches still set to open by Memorial Day or sometime in June.
To find out the daily water levels or status of the beaches at Okatibbee, call (601) 626-8431.
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