Lake Lanier has dropped 2 feet in two weeks and is now at its lowest level since March 2009.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-operated lake now is at 1,058 feet above sea level, or 13 feet below full pool. The last time Lanier hit this mark was during the 2007-09 drought, when the all-time level of 1,050.79 was reached.
On its website, the corps predicts that Lanier could drop to 1,055.2 feet by Dec. 21. The winter full pool of 1,070 feet becomes effective Saturday.
“There has been very little rain anywhere in the basin over the last two weeks and it appears that this will continue over the next few weeks as well,” the agency stated in its Tuesday drought update for the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin.
The ACF basin includes portions of Georgia, Florida and Alabama, with Lake Lanier in the upper half.
The corps’ report does offer some hope for relief.
“We are approaching the time of year where we will typically begin seeing frontal systems move through the Southeast, bringing much-needed rain to the basin,” it states.
“While the two-week outlook shows no significant rain, the extended climatic outlook still indicates equal chances of above or below average rainfall for the upcoming winter months.”
November has been largely dry so far, but the Hall County area could be in for a dose of rainfall this week, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.
A 60 percent chance for showers tonight through Tuesday night is in the outlook. Conditions then are expected to turn mostly dry again, with a slight chance for rain Friday and Saturday.
Lanier’s rapid drop in water is due at least in part to an increase in the amount of water released by the corps.
The agency announced in late October that it would release more water from Lanier and West Point Lake because of drought conditions affecting the ACF.
Lisa Parker, a spokeswoman for the corps, said in October 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.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor’s Nov. 6 report, Hall County is considered “abnormally dry,” a notch below moderate drought.
Portions of central and western Georgia are classified as being in “extreme” and “exceptional” drought. Only the extreme northwest and southeast corners of the state have normal conditions.