Flooding In Ohio = Extended Spring Gauley
So how could flooding on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers effect our spring Gauley releases? Simply put, we are uphill and can hold back water in our reservoirs, one of which is Summersville Lake. Overall the majority of the headwaters for the Ohio river, one of the largest river systems in our country, are located in the West Virginia highlands. Here's a quick crash course in WV topography: the high mountains are in the east (just to make sure everyone is following, water flows down hill), divide those right in half horizontally and you partition the state into its two major river systems - the Kanawha and the Monogahela. On the northern side of things the Cheat River watershed drains the high mountains and flows into the Monogahela, which flows through Pennsylvania and into the Ohio River. Looking south we have the Kanawha as our main watershed; this is the one that most of you are familiar with, or at least familiar with the rapids upstream on the New and the Gauley. The Gauley and Elk river systems drains the southern portion of the high mountains; the Elk flows into Sutton Lake and then continues to the Kanawha near Charleston and the Gauley of course flows into Summersville Lake then flows through America's Best Whitewater to meet the New River and form the Kanawha. The New River is a large watershed with its beginnings in North Carolina, progressively getting larger as it is fed from streams originating in the West Virginia mountains. Before reaching the New River Gorge park, the river has a flood control reservoir called Bluestone Lake, normally 2,040 acres in size, the lake can grow to over 36 miles long at flood control pool. After the lake the New flows through the Gorge, meets with the Gauley and heads towards the Ohio River. If you're not one of the unfortunate people who have been throwing sand bags you are probably wondering how this might effect your potentially epic spring Gauley vacation. Currently Summersville Lake is holding back water for flood control leaving it 6' over summer pool, it is projected that it will reach 21' over summer pool. Keep in mind that the lake drops 75' over 2-3 months in the fall. So hopefully you are connecting the dots by now to realize that we are going to continue to have an epic spring on the Gauley.