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Despite rain, lake still hurts

Little relief gained from recent weather

POSTED: March 5, 2008 5:01 a.m.

Above-normal rains this month mean for the last 90 days or so, Gainesville hasn’t been in a drought.

It’s the last year of rainfall that matters, though.

Two separate storm systems that brought 3.1 inches of rain between Feb. 17 and Friday saw Gainesville’s monthly rainfall rise to 5.6 inches so far, about an inch over average for February, according to the National Weather Service.

For the year, Gainesville has 8.36 inches, which brings its 90-day rainfall total into the black.

"Short-term wise, it’s not really much of a drought," said Mike Griesinger, a forecaster for the National Weather Service’s Peachtree City office. But rainfall during the last 365 days "is the number we’re struggling to take a bite out of at the moment."

Gainesville has had about 30 percent less rainfall than normal during the last 365 days.

The weather service said the two recent storms resulted in "slight reductions" in the coverage and intensity of moderate to exceptional drought in the Southeast.

The surface elevation of Lake Lanier rose to 1,052.84 feet above sea level by Tuesday, a little more than two feet above the all-time record low level set in December, the weather service said.

As of 8 p.m. Saturday, Lake Lanier stood at 1,053.22, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which tracks the level of the lake continuously and posts the results on its Web site. The Web site cautions the level comes from provisional data and is subject to revision.

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Web site, the last time Lake Lanier was at that level was Nov. 14, when the corps recorded a level of 1,053.29 feet above sea level at midnight.

To really put a dent in the drought, "we’ll need more storms like we’ve had, all-day rains," Griesinger said.

Forecasters aren’t expecting any more precipitation in the Gainesville area until Tuesday, and then it "likely will be nothing like we saw Thursday or Friday," Griesinger said.



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