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Lake Lanier at highest level in 2 years following heavy rains
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John Cronia, left, and Wayne Stewart, of Boat Dock Works, remove and dismantle a starting gate system Tuesday, April 24, 2018, from the course at the Lake Lanier Olympic Park. Lake Lanier is at its highest level in two years, thanks in part to the 4-plus inches of rain earlier this week. A mix of rain and sunshine is in the forecast for the rest of the week. - photo by Scott Rogers

Lake Lanier is at its highest level in two years and is steadily rising after a couple days of steady, drenching rain.

The lake level was at 1,071.52 feet above sea level at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 24 — or about a half-foot above the summer full pool of 1,071 feet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

And the level could go higher, as rain typically takes a day or two to drain to the lake in the watershed.

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A boater crosses Lake Lanier near Clarks Bridge Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Lake Lanier is at its highest level in two years, thanks in part to the 4-plus inches of rain earlier this week. A mix of rain and sunshine is in the forecast for the rest of the week. - photo by Scott Rogers
The National Weather Service said that 4.27 inches of rain was recorded between Sunday afternoon, April 22, and Tuesday morning at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville.

The heaviest rainfall took place on Monday, April 23, when 3.18 inches was recorded.

For the month, the area has had 5.14 inches, NWS meteorologist Vaughn Smith said.

“That’s quite a bit of rain for just the month of April,” he said. “Normally, the area gets 2.7 (inches).”

However, Smith added, “last year, up to the same point (in April), the (area) had 5.3 inches.”

The Hall County area may not do much drying out this week, as a mix of rain and sunshine is in the forecast through Saturday. Showers are predicted Thursday and Friday, with sunny skies expected Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

Joanna Cloud, executive director for the Lake Lanier Association, said numbers actually show “very little correlation between rainfall amounts and lake levels.”

“That is due to so many other variables being at play, plus the fact that rainfall that comes in has to offset the withdraws for drinking water above (Buford) Dam before we see an elevation in lake levels.”

Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Lake Lanier, couldn’t be reached for further comment on the rainfall’s impacts.

The last time Lanier was higher than it was Tuesday was 1,071.56 feet on Feb. 24, 2016.

The lake then began to slide downward into serious drought, dropping to 1,060.22 feet on Dec. 31, 2016.

Then, this past February, for the first time in two years, Lanier’s water level rose to 1,070 feet above sea level, or winter full pool.

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Randy Fuller, of Boat Dock Works, removes the gate system used for starting races on the Lanier Olympic Park course Tuesday, April 24, 2018. Lake Lanier is at its highest level in two years, thanks to the 4-plus inches of rain earlier this week. A mix of rain and sunshine is in the forecast for the rest of the week. - photo by Scott Rogers
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