Raleigh, N.C. — The level of lakes that serve as the region's water sources rose Saturday even as rain and thunderstorms continued to move into the area.
Falls Lake, Raleigh's water source, was on track to become full, WRAL Meteorologist Mike Moss said. Around 3 p.m. Saturday, the lake had risen five-tenths of a foot to 251.1 feet – just below its full capacity of 251.5 feet.
Jordan Lake, which serves Cary and Apex, was up two-tenths of a foot to 218 feet, exactly two feet above full.
Kerr Lake in Henderson had risen half a foot, bringing it up to 302.8 feet. It is considered full at 301.5 feet.
After a lull of only sporadic light rain Saturday morning, a strong storm system rolled in during the afternoon and was expected to give the region a good soaking. Totals could range between 1 and 3 inches, Moss said.
From Friday through 7 a.m. Saturday, the National Weather Service reported that 0.55 inches of rain had fallen at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, while Chapel Hill saw a little over a quarter of an inch. Observers for the NWS reported 0.90 inches had fallen in Fayetteville over the past 24 hours.
Those rainfall totals could bring significant drought relief: On Saturday morning, the Triangle's rainfall deficit stood at 1.08 inches for the first quarter of 2008, 5.32 inches for the past 12 months and 8.45 inches since January 2007.
“From a rainfall standpoint, this is just what the doctor ordered,” WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
Along with lake levels, the rains could also raise hopes that water restrictions will be eased.
The Raleigh City Council has given City Manager Russell Allen permission to allow the use of hand-held hoses for watering once Falls Lake reaches 90 percent. Sprinklers and other outdoor irrigation systems can be used when the lake is full.
Moving back to those Stage 1 restrictions could give great relief to "green" businesses, such as landscapers and nurseries, that depend on water for their daily activities.
Cary and Apex recently relaxed restrictions to allow outdoor watering on alternate days.