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Gainesville sets single-day rain record

6.6 inches reported in 24-hour period

POSTED: October 2, 2012 11:59 p.m.

Gainesville set a record Tuesday for the most rainfall ever reported locally in a 24-hour period, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

A cooperative observer using a National Weather Service gauge at Lake Lanier recorded 6.6 inches falling between 8 a.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday, meteorologist Alex Gibbs said.

The National Weather Service has been preserving data through the observer program since 1892.

The second most recorded rainfall amount is 6.06 inches on Sept. 2, 2004.

For October, typically one of the driest months of the year, the second-biggest total is 4.4 inches, set in 1977.

“There’s no reason to doubt that’s not a record, but we do like to go out and check those sites over and make sure things are right,” Gibbs said.

According to the rain gauge at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, some 6.7 inches of rain fell Monday and early Tuesday, bringing the total since Sunday to 7.39 inches.

Flash flooding Monday night closed a number of roads and made travel hazardous.

“We had calls of various trees down with some power outages, mainly in the (Gainesville) area, and some spotty roadway flooding,” Hall County Fire Chief David Kimbrell said Tuesday.

One mobile home park “had rising water, but it did not get into the homes.”

Also, heavy rains were blamed for a wastewater spill at midnight Tuesday at the Flat Creek Water Reclamation Facility on Old Flowery Branch Road.

“The rain caused excessive infiltration into the sewer collection system, basically overwhelming the pumping capabilities,” according to a press release from the city.

Public utilities staff estimated between 1 million and 1.5 million gallons of partially treated wastewater bypassed the final treatment process and discharged into Flat Creek.

Personnel “regained control of the treatment plant and returned to normal operations” at about 3 a.m.

As of Tuesday evening, Lake Lanier stood at 1,062.85 feet above sea level, or about 1.8 feet above Sunday afternoon’s elevation of 1,060.92 feet. The full impact, however, won’t be known for another day or so, as it takes that long for all the runoff from creeks and streams to reach Lanier.

Lanier’s full pool is 1,071 feet.

The lake had dropped to 1,060.89 feet on Saturday, the lowest it had been since Jan. 19, when it was at 1,060.77 feet. At this time last year, Lanier stood at 1,062.15 feet.

The last time Lanier was at full pool was May 1, 2011, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

A rain gauge at Buford Dam recorded 3.4 inches of rain and another one north of the dam recorded 5 inches, said Patrick Robbins, corps spokesman.

“It depends on where the bulk of the rain fell as to how much of an actual rise we will see at the lake,” he said. “Every little bit helps.”

Robbins added: “We will need to continue to get these type of rains to have significant impact in the long run.”

The corps has “downstream requirements, and we are still only releasing the minimum required for water supply and other downstream needs.”

Because the lake is less than 1,063 feet above sea level, Lanier is operating under the corps’ Low Water Action Plan.

Dock permits, for example, won’t be considered until the lake level shows it can stay consistently above 1,064 feet.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, Hall County is experiencing moderate to severe drought.

That’s based on data collected through last Tuesday at 7 a.m. A drought update will be released Thursday based on data collected through 7 a.m. Tuesday.


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