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Rains push Lanier past 1,060 feet

POSTED: March 29, 2009 11:12 p.m.

The heavens poured three inches of rain on North Georgia over five days last week, and gave Lake Lanier a 1.2 foot boost.

As of Sunday afternoon, the water level at Lake Lanier’s Buford Dam was 1,060.36 feet above sea level, which is the highest point the lake has reached since Sept. 16, 2007. Full pool is 1,071 feet.

Mike Leary, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Peachtree City, said Sunday the lake has yet to get the full impact of last week’s five-day rain event.

“The rain’s still coming into this. It’s still draining in,” Leary said. “This was a really good thing for the lake. It will make a lot of people smile.”

In December 2007, the lake reached its lowest point to date at 1,050.79 feet. If Lake Lanier’s levels reach 1,061 feet above sea level, the lake will be just 10 feet below full pool.

And there’s more rain in store for North Georgia this week, Leary said.

Although there’s not another deluge in store this week, Leary said there’s a 100 percent chance of rain Tuesday night. He said scattered showers are possible Tuesday through Thursday.

As for the drought, it’s sticking around. Leary said rains this week and last are a drop in the bucket compared to what the region needs.

“It’s certainly going to help, though,” he said. “But we need about 10 of these before you start saying, ‘Hey, I think we’re going to end that drought.’”

Last week’s extended rain put the northern half of Georgia under a flood watch Thursday through Saturday. Leary said no North Georgia areas experienced significant flooding.

But flood advisories remained Sunday evening for parts of the southern half of the state, as rivers and creeks continued to swell with runoff from heavy rainfall. The National Weather Service in Peachtree City issued flood warnings for parts of the Ocmulgee River near Hawkinsville and Abbeville, affecting Bleckley, Pulaski, Dodge, Telfair and Wilcox counties.

Meteorologist Rob Handel said some warnings for areas near small creeks and streams had been canceled but people living in low-lying areas near bigger rivers like the Ocmulgee and Flint should be cautious. He said the larger rivers are expected to continue rising from the additional rain expected on Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.



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