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Lake Lanier rises a foot in 1 week

POSTED: December 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Bell's Mill Bridge along U.S. 129 covers a dry lake bed due to drought during the past several years. Only a small creek runs along one side of the bridge.

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With rain received over the last week, it looks like Lake Lanier may not hit a record low water level this winter as anticipated.

As of Tuesday night, the lake was at an elevation of 1,052.05 feet above sea level, according to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Web site. That’s an increase of a little more than a foot in the past seven days.

The lake is at full pool when it is at 1,071 feet. Lanier dropped to a record level of 1,050.79 feet Dec. 26 and had been expected to sink below that level this year.

While many are hoping for even more rain this week to boost the lake level, National Weather Service Forecaster Mike Griesinger said it likely won’t rain much more.

"It’ll be mainly cloudy and drizzly (Tuesday) through Thursday," Griesinger said. "There’s not a whole lot in the way of rain chances."

Griesinger estimated about one quarter of an inch of rain could fall this week. It will also be much warmer than usual, with high temperatures pushing 70 degrees by the end of the week.

State Climatologist David Stooksbury said while last week’s rain was substantial, it mostly counteracted weeks without rain. About one inch of rain is expected per week on average during the winter.

"Since Nov. 1, the University of Georgia’s weather station at Clarks Bridge has received 6.07 inches of rain, and would have expected 6.40 inches," Stooksbury said. "So on a little bit longer time scale, it’s not quite as impressive."

Stooksbury said Earth currently is in a neutral phase for climate, which makes it very difficult to predict what precipitation could be like for the rest of the winter.

"Precipitation is very variable," Stooksbury said. "It comes in these big chunks; there’s no way really to know."

And though Lake Lanier probably won’t dip below its record low level of 1050.79 this month, Stooksbury said it’s not out of the picture.

Stooksbury said this winter, water levels will go up. It happens every winter, even in a drought because temperatures are cooler and plants are dormant.

"Lanier will show some improvement," Stooksbury said. "The big question is how much improvement."


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