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Humidity staves off lake evaporation; hot days are coming

POSTED: August 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.

The good news is that Northeast Georgia’s drought did not worsen over the past week.

The bad news is that it couldn’t get any worse because the area is already classified as "exceptional," the most severe drought category.

Yet if you didn’t look at Lake Lanier, which is now almost 16 feet below full pool, you’d think the situation was improving. Vegetation looks green and healthy, thanks to intermittent rains that fell during much of July.

Stephen Konarik, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, said 5.31 inches of rain was recorded at the Gainesville airport during July.

He said about 5.12 inches is average for the month. Last July, only 4.28 inches fell in Gainesville.

The rain kept temperatures slightly above normal and humidity above normal, which helped reduce evaporation from streams and lakes. However, creek flows are still extremely low.

"June was a very dry month, so we have some catching up to do," said Konarik.

That’s not likely to happen during the next few days, which could bring some of the highest temperatures so far this summer.

"There’s a high-pressure system that’s causing a big bubble of heat to form in the Southeast," said Konarik. "But the Mississippi Valley will be affected more than Georgia. They’ll probably see 100 degrees, whereas here it shouldn’t get higher than the mid-90s."

He said meteorologists do not expect a repeat of last August’s unprecedented heat wave, where temperatures topped 100 degrees day after day, even in the Northeast Georgia mountains.

"The long-term forecast for August is temperatures a little above normal and rainfall about average," Konarik said.

But without a tropical storm system, any rain that comes is not expected to help Lanier at all. On July 31, the lake level stood at 1,055.16, the lowest it’s been since mid-March.



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