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Long-term rain forecast doesn’t look good for Hall

POSTED: February 16, 2009 12:09 a.m.

Rain is in the forecast for Wednesday and possibly this weekend, meteorologists say, but their counterparts who take a little longer look into the future aren’t seeing good news.

Climatologists’ predictions for the next few months indicate Northeast Georgia could have below-normal rainfall this spring.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center periodically issues three-month outlooks. The most recent outlook predicts below-normal precipitation for March through May, said Laura Griffith, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

That’s not good for an area already below-normal for rainfall this year.

"We are still a little bit below normal on our rainfall," Griffith said. "We aren’t exactly where we should be for this time of year."

The weather service’s "rainfall scorecard" puts Atlanta 4.45 inches behind on rainfall and Athens 3.71 inches behind, Griffith said.

"We do need some of this rain, especially on Wednesday," she said. "We are hoping some of this pans out, especially across North Georgia so we can get some rain up there."

The Climate Prediction Center updated its eight- to 14-day predictions on Sunday, giving the region a 40 percent to 50 percent chance of having above-normal temperatures. But as for rain, Georgia is sandwiched between the Ohio River Valley, expected to be drier over the next two weeks, and Florida, expected to be wetter over the next two weeks. So we’ve got an equal chance of the weather going either way here, Griffith said.

The Climate Prediction Center does show the drought continuing in Northeast Georgia through April, but having some improvement, according to the weather service Web site.

The U.S. Drought Monitor, updated every Thursday, puts Hall County and other portions of Northeast Georgia in the moderate drought range. On a scale of 1 to 5, that puts Hall at a 3 — right in the middle. Some areas to the east are a little worse off at extreme drought. Most of Georgia has improved to just abnormally dry, the lowest drought rating. No portions of Georgia remain in the highest drought rating of exceptional drought.

Though the chance of pop-up showers gets better as the weather warms up, Griffith said a more significant rain event, such as a tropical system, really is needed for the region to pull itself out of the drought. And more rain is needed to help Lake Lanier, at 1,056.70 feet above sea level as of Sunday night, continue to rise.

Though the long-term rain forecast doesn’t look positive, models can change, she said.

"It’s a little disheartening, but we’ll take what we can get."



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