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Recharged waters threat to low lying areas during upcoming hurricane season

POSTED: May 9, 2013 9:54 p.m.

The rain has been good, but the approaching hurricane season could put Georgia at risk for flooding and other trouble if it continues to rain, weather experts say.

“Overall, it’s been very beneficial,” said Kent Frantz, hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

“It has recharged the lakes, rivers and streams. And the really good part is this kind of water is working its way into the groundwater tables and they take much longer to recharge.”

On the downside, “we have to be aware that if a big (rain) comes through, (such as) something we had this past weekend so soon afterward, then we would maybe start seeing more roads affected, maybe some structures,” he said.

Last Thursday through Sunday, nearly 4 inches of rain fell at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, the weather service recorded.

So far this year, 28.76 inches of rain have fallen in Gainesville, compared to the normal amount of 20.39 inches, leaving a surplus of 8.37 inches.

Gainesville would be on track, based on normal rainfall amounts, if it didn’t rain another drop until early July.

“Watch very closely to the tropical season that’s coming up,” Frantz said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been impacted in Georgia with a decent storm, something that produces a good 5-10 inches of rain.

“You’re just going to have greater impacts, because now everything is running high and it’s wet, versus last year, when we were in a drought. Then, we would have had minimal impact.”

Hurricane season is June 1 until Nov. 30.

“We are looking for an active tropical season again, and if we truly are affected by one or two storms ... the impacts would be significant. And the odds would say we are due.”

Bill Murphey, state climatologist with the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, agreed that an active tropical season is in the works and that “we don’t need a tropical system any time soon.”

Last fall, most of Georgia, including Northeast Georgia, was mired in drought. Today, just a small swath of Georgia coastline is “abnormally dry.”

Further indication of the rainfall’s impact is the effect on Lake Lanier’s elevation.

Last fall, it was about 14 feet below its winter full pool of 1,070 feet above sea level.

On Thursday, Lanier stood at 1,073.54 feet, or 2« feet above the summer full pool of 1,071 feet.

The lake hasn’t been this full since September 2004, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ database.

The area forecast calls for a chance of showers and thunderstorms moving in later today and likely throughout Saturday.

Murphey doesn’t expect heavy rainfall from the system.

“And behind it looks like it’s going to be a fairly decent dry period,” he said.


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