Mattamuskeet Refuge Helping Neighbors Impacted By Excessive Rainfall

Posted By on March 9, 2016

Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place to visit, but it’s much, much more.  Mattamuskeet is a place for wildlife and a place for people to enjoy wildlife and wildlands.  Mattamuskeet is also a good neighbor.

In general, water flows out of Lake Mattamuskeet into Pamlico Sound whenever lake levels are higher than sound levels. The Refuge has  tide gates located in the four canals linking Lake Mattamuskeet to Pamlico Sound.  These gates normally allow water to  flow out (only out) of the lake when lake levels are higher than the sound water level.  

In 2015, eastern North Carolina experienced significantly higher-than-normal rainfalls totaling 78 inches. As a result of this excessive rainfall, causing high water levels in both lake and sound, and unfavorable winds, the Refuge’s tide gates did not open and allow outward flow for an extended period of time  There simply was not enough water pressure in the lake to push the gates open. On several recent occasions, the exceptionally high lake levels combined with heavy winds pushed water from the lake onto adjacent residential and agricultural lands causing significant flooding.

Recently, conditions have improved, and the gates have operated normally, releasing water from the lake toward Pamlico Sound.  But lake levels remain high, and the potential for flooding due to high winds persists. In an effort to increase the potential volume of lake water flowing toward Pamlico Sound and reduce the severity of flooding, the Refuge has manually opened all tide gates to their maximum extent.

On a daily basis, the Refuge is monitoring the direction of water flow through these tide gates, as well as wind direction and speed. Winds from the west, northwest, north or northeast directions promote water flow through the tide gates. 

If weather forecasts predict a sustained (more than a few hours), strong wind from a southerly direction which may result in a sustained reversal of flow from the Pamlico Sound into Lake Mattamuskeet, the Refuge will take action to return the gates to automatic operation.  This action would prevent water from the sound  being forced into the lake. 

When outward flow resumes toward Pamlico Sound, the gates will be adjusted accordingly. 

If you have questions, please contact Managers Pete Campbell or Keith Ramos at 252-796-4021.

Mattamuskeet sunset (photo: Keith Ramos/USFWS)

Mattamuskeet sunset (photo: Keith Ramos/USFWS)

Mattamuskeet sunset egrets (photo: Keith Ramos/USFWS)

Mattamuskeet sunset egrets (photo: Keith Ramos/USFWS)

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Posted by Matt Artz

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