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North Ga. counties mired in mild drought

POSTED: August 12, 2010 11:01 p.m.

After being drought free for more than a year, parts of northern Georgia have returned to drought conditions over the past three months, state climatologist David Stooksbury said.

Towns County in North Georgia is in a mild drought, meaning it has received between 50 percent and 75 percent of normal rainfall. Stooksbury classified Banks, Forsyth, Dawson, Lumpkin and Union counties as being abnormally dry, having received 80 percent or less of normal rainfall.

Hall and Jackson counties, meanwhile, have received “near normal” precipitation, he said.

It’s “too early to say we’re going to have a drought and Lake Lanier is going to go down,” he said. “You sort of look at this as being in a drought watch.”

Lanier was at 1,069.89 feet above sea level at mid-afternoon Thursday, just more than a foot below the normal summer full pool of 1,071 feet.

Temperatures across the state have been above normal this summer, Stooksbury said, increasing water loss by evaporation and plant water use.

Stooksbury said his big concern is the La Niña weather pattern affecting the region. Tropical storms can ease drought conditions in Georgia, but a strong La Niña pattern can leave the state drier and warmer than normal during winter months.

Mild drought conditions also are present in other parts of north-central, west-central and southwest Georgia, Stooksbury said.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory until 7 p.m. today for most of north and central Georgia, including Hall County but excluding the northeast Georgia mountains. Increasing humidities today will make it feel about 105F in the region.



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