Drought Worsens Despite Some Rainfall

By: Chris Whited Email
By: Chris Whited Email

Okatibbee Drought

Parts of Mississippi and Alabama received some welcome rain Friday morning, including Okatibbee Lake in Lauderdale County.

But the levels continue to drop each day as the drought persists.

Jack Huntley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says he's never seen the lake so low in the fifteen years he's worked there.

"I think maybe sometimes people don't realize this lake depends on runoff and it depends on runoff coming at times during the year," said Huntley. "We didn't get a whole lot of runoff this year so that put us behind. And when we got into March and April, we didn't get the rains so we really couldn't catch up from this whole year."

Okatibbee Lake is so low in spots that some areas have become islands. This has forced the closing of beaches and there's no swimming.

One boat ramp has already been closed and another will be soon, due to lake obstructions. People are also asked to stay off the lake at night.

"People are used to coming out here and recreating in the lake this time of the year, and water to boat in, and to use their jet skis. And of course, we're so low stumps are starting to show up," said Huntley. "Sand bars are starting to show up and we're just afraid when people come out here, unless they are paying real close attention when they get in the lake it's going to be dangerous for them this year. So they need to be careful."

Eastern Mississippi, from roughly Columbus to Meridian along Highway 45 and into west Alabama, has been placed under stage 4 "exceptional drought" status.

Roughly 9 percent of Mississippi and 38 percent of Alabama now fall under that category.

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