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Heavy rain will help, not solve, Lake Lanier's water woes

This weekend should be nice

POSTED: December 19, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Heavy rain in the area caused problems for motorists on Thursday.

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Steady showers that settled over Gainesville on Wednesday and Thursday dumped just shy of 4 inches of rain, raising the level of Lake Lanier.

The two-day total of rainfall recorded at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville was 3.8 inches as of 10 p.m. Thursday, according to Kent McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. The airport recorded 2.04 inches between midnight and 10 p.m. Thursday, he said.

Most of the state got a good soaking from the two-day storm, with the heaviest amounts — some 5 to 7 inches — falling across portions of Central Georgia, McMullen said.

"It was a pretty good rain event for the entire area," he said.

And that soaking rain did its part to raise the level of Lake Lanier, though just a little.

"It’s going to help — it’s not going to solve — but it’s going to help," McMullen said.

The lake level had been hovering inches above its record low of 1,050.79 feet above sea level set on Dec. 26. State climatologist David Stooksbury said Wednesday that he believes this week’s rain could keep Lake Lanier from reaching a new all-time record low.

The level of Lake Lanier was at 1,051.60 as of 9:15 p.m. Thursday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Web site.

The lake level likely will continue to rise a bit over the next couple of days, McMullen said, as rainfall that fell upstream continues to flow into Lanier via its tributaries.

The level of the Chattahoochee River in White County reached a high of 4.2 feet during this week’s storms, McMullen said. That’s short of the river’s 6-foot flood stage in that area, and it already dropped down to 2.3 feet as of 10 p.m. Thursday, he said.

Thursday’s heavy rain also kept the Georgia State Patrol busy with weather-related wrecks, although none involved injuries. Operator Amber Sorrells with the Georgia State Patrol said most wrecks Thursday were a case of "people just not paying attention," she said.

McMullen said the rain should be ending today, with a few more light showers or drizzle possible. Expect to wake up this morning to wind gusting up to 30 or 40 mph, he said.

The weekend should be nice, with highs in the 50s across the area.

Staff writer Jeff Gill contributed to this report.



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