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Hall area still faces moderate drought
Rain Thursday, possibly next week should help ease conditions
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Hall County got steady rainfall Thursday and may pick up a decent amount next week, around Christmas Day, and the water-starved area needs all it can get.

The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report, released Thursday, still shows that while Hall is in moderate drought, severe and even extreme drought are encroaching.

Portions of Dawson and Lumpkin counties have extreme drought, while portions of Forsyth, Dawson and Lumpkin counties and all of Habersham County are in severe drought, according to the report, produced by the Nebraska-based National Drought Mitigation Center.

A huge swath of Middle Georgia and part of South Georgia are either in extreme drought or the worst level of drought, exceptional, according to the drought report, which is updated every Thursday based on data collected through 7 a.m. Tuesday of that week.

The Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin, which includes Lake Lanier, “received some much-needed relief from extreme dry conditions,” according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ biweekly drought report.

“Widespread areas of 1-2 inches of rain have fallen over much of the basin since late Sunday with the potential for more on the way in the coming weeks.”

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City reported that the rain gauge at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville recorded 0.93 inches of rain as of 10 p.m. Thursday.

The agency also predicted a chance of showers or thunderstorms for the area Monday through Wednesday.

Chances are nil the wet might turn to white on Christmas Day, as the high temperature is expected to hover in the mid-50s through the period.

“Over the next week, we will likely see another system move though the basin bringing up to one additional inch of rain to the northern ACF basin,” according to the corps.

“Forecasts indicate another system behind that moving through the basin on (Wednesday or Thursday), bringing an additional 1 to 3 inches of rain to the basin.”

Lake Lanier stood at 1,056.50 feet above sea level Thursday afternoon, or 13-14 feet below the winter full pool of 1,070 feet. Winter full pool began Dec. 1 and runs through April 30.

That’s up from 1,056.30 Wednesday morning, but down from 1,056.52 on Dec. 13.

The corps announced in late October that it would release more water from Lanier and West Point Lake because of drought conditions affecting the ACF basin.

Lisa Parker, a spokeswoman for the corps, said at the time that water would leave Lanier at a rate of 2,500 cubic feet per second, up from the minimum release of 1,100 cfs.

The corps is required by law to release at least 4,500 cfs out of Woodruff Dam on Lake Seminole at the Georgia-Florida border because of the endangered species that make their home in the southern end of the river system.

At this time last year, Lanier was at 1,058.58 feet. Next Wednesday will mark the fifth anniversary of the lake’s historic low, 1,050.79 feet.