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Forecasters say wet weather unlikely to continue
A pedestrian walks through downtown Gainesville Monday morning as rain showers continued to pass through the area.

The wet weather that started this week might not return for a while.

Sunny skies are expected to close out September and kick off October, which is one of the driest months of the year.

And a La Niña ocean atmosphere pattern in play for the eastern U.S. could mean drier, warmer than usual months ahead — perhaps into the spring.

“That La Niña has developed very quickly and it looks real strong,” said Pam Knox, assistant state climatologist, on Monday. “I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.”

The National Weather Service recorded a total of about 1.5 inches of rain Sunday and Monday at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville.

The rain fell as a slow-moving front passed through the area, Knox said, adding, “I think a lot of the rain is going to be concentrated just a little farther to the east for the next few days.”

David Kimbrell, Hall County’s fire chief, called the rainfall a “very welcome” sight.

“Luckily, the burn ban for ozone has kept people from burning,” he said.

Since May 1, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has prohibited burning in 54 counties around Atlanta to help reduce air pollution in the smoggy summer months.

The burn ban ends Sept. 30.

Before Monday, the Hall County area had seen about 35 inches of rain for the year, or nearly 7 inches below the average.

“One advantage of this rain is that a lot of it came pretty steadily over a long time period ... which allowed the soil to absorb more than it would have if it came as a brief set of showers,” Knox said.

“But I bet if you dig down half a foot, (the soil) is going to be really dry again.”

Sunny or mostly sunny skies are in the outlook through Monday.

The good news for area residents is that high temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 70s or low 80s for the rest of the week, then drop to 71 by Monday.

And the rain is starting to boost levels at Lake Lanier, even though runoff into creeks and streams won’t reach the lake completely for another day or so.

The lake stood at 1,069.01 feet above sea level Monday evening, with full pool at 1,071 feet. It had dropped to 1,068.58 feet by 2 a.m. Sunday.

For the first time this year, levels dropped below 1,069 feet above sea level on Sept. 16.

And the last time the lake was at 1,071 feet was June 22. The last significant rainfall took place on July 17, when 2.62 inches fell on Buford Dam, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake.

During the two-year drought that ended last year, the lake dropped to a historic low of 1,050.79 feet.

“We have had quite a bit of rain this year, especially in the corridor that kind of goes from Atlanta to Macon,” Knox said.