Area lakes still open July 4 despite heavy rains

krupp@newsobserver.comJuly 1, 2013 

— Area lakes are popular destinations for residents celebrating Independence Day, and they will be open Thursday, despite the weekend’s severe storms.

Nearly 60,000 people visit Jordan Lake and the surrounding campgrounds on July Fourth and, unless there is a heavy rain on Thursday, just as many are expected this year, said Shederick Mole, superintendent of Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. The normal level of the almost 14,000-acre lake south of Chapel Hill is 216 feet above sea level. The water is expected to peak at 222 feet because of this week’s rain. The Army Corps of Engineers will begin releasing water from the dam on Thursday, Mole said.

“We haven’t had to close anything right now,” Mole said. “Some campsites will be affected and beach areas will be affected but I can’t predict if they will be closed. It will all depend on the weather the next few days.”

No shelters or picnic areas at Jordan Lake will be closed. As on all major holidays, the shelters and facilities on the 3,916-acre campgrounds are not rented out and are used on a first-come, first-served basis.

Conditions at Falls Lake State Recreation Area north of Raleigh are also unlikely to deter visitors Thursday. Of the lake’s 20 picnic shelters, one is closed because of flooding.

“Last year’s July Fourth number is 18,000 visitors. The number of visitors on Thursday is probably going to be in and around the same ballpark, 20,000 people parkwide, including the campgrounds,” said Scott Kershner, superintendent of Falls Lake.

The Falls Lake area includes a 12,000-acre lake and 26,000 acres of woodlands and campgrounds. The normal water depth for Falls Lake is 251 feet above sea level; anything above that is considered flood stage. Kershner says he predicts the water depth to peak on Tuesday at 255 feet, but he cannot determine when the lake will return to normal levels.

The Lake Gaston Chamber of Commerce holds its annual evening fireworks show on Saturday. The lake, on the North Carolina and Virginia border, did not experience any flooding.

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