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2013 was Hall's third-wettest year on record

POSTED: January 3, 2014 12:38 a.m.

Gainesville-Hall County’s 2013 rainfall amount, 78.95 inches, ranks third highest on record, or since 1892, State Climatologist Bill Murphey said.

The highest amount on record is 82.92 inches in 1929 and the second highest, 80.25, in 2009, he said.
The normal amount was 53.16 inches, meaning Gainesville-Hall has a 25.79-inch surplus.

“There’s plenty of water (in the area),” Murphey said. “Stream flows ought to be doing good.”

This year already has started on a wet note, with three-tenths of an inch of rain falling Thursday. And the National Weather Service forecast calls for more rain — and possibly snow — on Sunday.

Lake Lanier, meanwhile, stood at 1,071.83 feet above sea level, or nearly 2 feet above the winter full pool of 1,070 feet. The reservoir has been at or near full pool, including the summer level of 1,071 feet, since early last year.

The levels contrast sharply with December 2012.

At that time, Lanier was going in the opposite direction, dipping as low as 1,056.33 feet. Until then, conditions were reminiscent of 2007-09, when Lanier dropped to a historic low of 1,050.79 feet on Dec. 26, 2007.

The 2007-09 drought ended with the huge rainfall rebound in 2009.

Drenching rainfalls in 2013, including 14 inches in July, caused problems, including flooding, fallen trees and damaged roads, for public works crews in city and county governments throughout Hall.

But one of the worst — and costliest — impacts was culvert failure.

During May 19 floods, several roads crumbled when underground pipes gave way, including on Stephens Road in West Hall and McEver Road at the Oakwood-Flowery Branch line. An overflowing Mud Creek was the culprit in both cases.

In one case, Hall County delayed work on a major culvert repair project in West Hall because of high lake levels.

Officials said they needed the lake to drop to around 1,071 feet above sea level before they could proceed on the work on Big Creek at McEver Road, near Buford city limits and Lake Lanier.

The contractor, Missouri-based SAK Construction, restarted work on the $682,100 project in early December.

“They were able to keep working despite the rain (that came later in the month),” County Engineer Kevin McInturff said Thursday. “While the lake did rise a fair amount, the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) has been letting the water out fairly quickly.”

The Big Creek culverts — two that are side by side, each 11-12 feet in diameter and about 100 feet in length — lie under a strip of McEver that’s between Gaines Ferry Road in Flowery Branch and Ga. 347/Lanier Islands Parkway in Buford.

Big Creek runs from near Interstate 985 to McEver, where it empties into Lanier.

“The old pipes are very deteriorated,” McInturff has said. “The bottoms are eaten out of them. There are huge holes in them.”

The road hasn’t been affected by the deterioration.

The project’s funding comes from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant program and the county’s special purpose local option sales tax program, officials have said.

Barring any changes in weather and lake levels jumping again, the project could be finished in late February, McInturff said.


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