The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jspancksonville District, in its Tropical Storm Nicole update Tuesday, announced operational procedures for Lake Okeechobee, the Herbert Hoover Dike, the Port Canaveral Lock and the St. Lucie Lock & Dam.
USACE plans no pre-storm releases from Lake Okeechobee, it announced via a press release. Following standard operating procedures, operations teams will close all USACE structures on the lake during the storm to maintain the integrity of HHD. The St. Lucie Lock and Dam (S-80) will be opened as needed for flood control and navigation on the C-44 canal.
USACE does not have a current estimate of how much lake rise can be anticipated by this storm, but with the lake already at nearly 16 feet, the potential exists that high-volume releases will be needed following the storm, the Corps said.
Ian flooding:Aerispanl photos show how Hurricspanne Ispann flooded the lspankes nespanr Kissimmee spannd Centrspanl Floridspan
Canal discharge:Hurricspanne Ispann: Stormwspanter pollutes St. Lucie River, but none is from Lspanke Okeechobee
Lower canals:Hurricspanne Ispann: Army Corps, SFWMD lower cspannspanls into St. Lucie River, Indispann River Lspangoon
How much rainfall came from Hurricane Ian?
Hurricane Ian dropped between 13 and 16 inches of rainfall in the Kissimmee River area when it passed across Florida on Sept. 29-30. That rain flooded parts of Kissimmee and caused problems for the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes. The South Florida Water Management District needed to use emergency pumps to help move a greater volume of water 100 miles south into Lake Okeechobee following the storm’s impact.
The lake is at 15.89 feet above sea level Tuesday. It wspans spant 13.6 feet on Sept. 29. Hurricane Ian’s rainfall caused the lake to rise 2 feet 5 inches in a little more than a month.
Tropical Storm Nicole could drop as much as 6 inches of rain fall as it moves across the state, and back.
“We are coordinating closely with Federal agencies, state, local, and tribal government officials in Florida to support local residents and prepare for the impacts of Tropical Storm Nicole on the state, our facilities, and projects. We urge residents to pay attention to the news and follow any county evacuation orders that are issued immediately,” said Col. James Booth, commander of the Jacksonville District.
Jacksonville District is issuing the following guidance on its operations in Florida:
The Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) was inspected following Hurricane Ian, and USACE operations staff are checking all structures and the dike in advance of Tropical Storm Nicole. HHD is safer today than it has ever been going into a storm. Construction on the dike is 97% complete, all culvert replacements and removals are done, and the cutoff wall construction is 99% complete.
Navigation locks on the Okeechobee Waterway will operate for extended hours while it is safe to do so. Beginning Nov 8, 2022, the locks will operate from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m., with the last lockage at 9:30 p.m. The Canaveral Lock will be open for normal hours, 6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. with the last lockage starting at 9 p.m. For the safety of the lock operators, the USACE will suspend operations when lightning is in the area or when winds reach 35 miles per hour. We will update Notices to Navigation on our website and notify the public through our social media platforms.
Park rangers are monitoring conditions at USACE campgrounds and recreation areas. Currently the recreation facilities at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam are closed after suffering damage from Hurricane Ian. All other campgrounds and recreation facilities managed by the Corps of Engineers in Florida are still open. If a county government issues an evacuation order for mobile homes or RV parks in an area where there is a Corps’ campground or recreational facility, rangers will order an evacuation of the facility and advise on shelter locations. Visitors should move all campers, motor homes, tents, vessels, and trailers from facilities under evacuation orders. Campers will receive refunds for any cancelled camping reservations through the reservation system contractor. For more information on refunds, guests can go to www.recreation.gov or call 877-444-6777.
Survey vessels and crews are prepositioning near deep draft ports in Florida to provide immediate harbor surveys, if required, once the storm has passed. USACE works closely with our partners in the U.S. Coast Guard and various port authorities to ensure a quick return to normal port traffic.
Coastal engineers will inspect Coastal Storm Risk Management projects as soon as it is safe to do so following the storm. Post storm inspections will be used to determine if any additional steps are necessary as a result of storm damage. The beach projects are specifically designed to help protect infrastructure from storms like Tropical Storm Nicole. USACE can also inspect non-federal beaches for damage if given a mission assignment to do so by FEMA through the state EOC.
Information for boaters, campers, those living near Lake Okeechobee, the Herbert Hoover Dike, and the Northern Estuaries will be updated regularly on the USACE website at USACE website. You can also follow on Twitter @JaxStrong or Facebook at Facebook.com/JacksonvilleDistrict.