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Rain may help Lanier avoid new low

POSTED: December 18, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The state climatologist said Wednesday that he believes this week’s rain could keep Lake Lanier from reaching a new all-time record low.

David Stooksbury said the current storm system will bring considerable rain to Lanier, which dropped to a record low of 1,050.79 feet above sea level on Dec. 26. More than 1.6 inches of rain fell in Northeast Georgia during the day Wednesday, and more is expected today.

"The Lanier basin is so small that we’ll take it wherever we can get it, but it has already rained 2 to 3 inches over the whole basin," he said at midafternoon Wednesday. He called the rainfall, two weeks before Christmas "an Advent gift." Advent is the four-week observance leading up to Christmas.

On Wednesday evening, Lake Lanier stood at about 1,051 feet — 20 feet below full pool of 1,071 feet.

He said benefit from the rain will continue.

"We’ll see noticeable inflows from this rain for at least a week," he said. "The peak will occur Friday or over the weekend. Then, you’ll start to see a gradual decrease."

Stooksbury said the rain will be even more beneficial because of less evaporation because of cool temperatures and less demand by plants for water.

The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch through this morning for a large area including Hall, Dawson,
Habersham, Jackson, Lumpkin and White counties.

The combination of unusually mild temperatures and unstable weather happens about once this time every year, said Mike Leary, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City.

"You get a big influx of Gulf moisture that’s really quite warm," he said. "That sets up instability in combination with the cold front coming down."

Temperatures should return to normal for this time of year today, with overnight lows in the lower 30s in Georgia and the mid-20s by Friday morning, he said.

But as the temperatures drop and the moisture moves out, forecasters say we could see some very light snow. Light snow showers are possible overnight tonight, but little or no accumulation is expected.

Ground temperatures will remain above freezing.

The low Friday morning is expected to be 33 degrees.



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