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Storms could soak region

About 5 inches of rain may fall; area under flood watch

POSTED: March 26, 2009 11:37 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Johnson High students, from left, Kayleigh Durden, Melissa Ancieta and Kayla Madsen look through a soccer program while watching the Knights take on Chestatee High during a rainy Wednesday night at War Eagle Stadium.

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The first full week of spring is turning out to be a soggy one.

The rain that started Tuesday night is expected to continue off and on until early Sunday, bringing as much as 5 inches of rain to parts of North and Central Georgia.

At 11:30 a.m., just six-tenths of an inch of rain has fallen at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, most of it falling since sunrise today.

Much of the state, including Hall and surrounding counties, is under a flood watch until late Saturday.

"A flood watch means conditions are favorable for flooding, so you need to be ready to take action," said Jessica Fieux, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

This week’s unstable weather is the result of two storm systems sweeping across the eastern United States, one on Wednesday, the other expected by Saturday.

For the Gainesville area, up to an inch of rain was expected Wednesday, with up to an additional 2 inches falling overnight.

As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, only 0.17 of an inch had been recorded in the previous 24 hours at the National Weather Service’s official monitoring station at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport.

"That will probably be the heaviest rain," said Fieux. "Then on Thursday we expect more thunderstorms (rather than steady rain)."

She said tonight and Friday morning may bring "somewhat of a lull." But then the second wave of rain will come through.

"There’s a possibility of severe weather, especially as we get toward Saturday," Fieux said.

"It could include damaging winds and hail, maybe even tornadoes."

Though the storms may be disruptive to outdoor activities, Fieux said this is a normal weather pattern for March.

Meanwhile, the 3 to 5 inches of rain expected over the four-day period will saturate the ground and boost local lakes and streams.

As of 8 p.m. Wednesday, Lake Lanier stood at 1,059.21 feet above sea level, its highest point since September 2007. It’s expected to surpass 1,060 by the time the weekend is over, and may even edge toward 1,061, depending on how much rain falls within the Lanier basin.

That would put the lake only 10 feet below full pool, a remarkable recovery in just three months. In December, Lanier hit 1,051, which is 20 feet below normal.



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