Kaid Benfield Archive


Drought made vivid

Kaid Benfield

Posted August 18, 2008 at 1:57PM

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Some time back, I wrote about the drought that plagued the Southeastern US over the last couple of years.  Earlier this month I was reminded that it is still with us.

In particular, my significant other and I paid a visit to one of our favorite retreats, the beautiful Peaks of Otter in Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains.  From the lodge (no phone, no pool, no pets, all good) you get a classic view looking out across Abbott Lake toward Sharp Top Mountain.  Notice the beautiful yellow-green wetland in the foreground:

looking toward Sharp Top on August 4 (c2008 FK Benfield)

Lovely.  But something didn't feel right.  The wetland hadn't registered so strongly before, and there was something odd about that clump of trees. 

Then I realized that, on our previous visits, the wetland hadn't been there.  The clump of trees had been an island that visitors used to row out to:

the same view two years earlier (by: Alan Sharp, creative commons license)

Here are a couple of other images of roughly the same scene, also from previous years and with a heck of a lot more water:

March 2006 (by: Keith Bryan, Wikimedia Commons) Abbott Lake, the island and Sharp Top (by: tennant24, creative commons license)

In the photos below, you can see a rowboat stored by the "shoreline."  The sign says, "swimming, boating and ice skating prohibited."  OK, I'm convinced:

Abbott "Lake" (c2008, FK Benfield) "swimming, boating and ice skating prohibited" (c2008, FK Benfield)

At our next destination, Asheville, about 250 miles farther south on the Blue Ridge Parkway, the French Broad River was at its lowest level on record (i.e., from 1895 forward).  The second lowest level for the river was recorded in 2002, just six years ago.