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Lake level steady despite downpours
Expert says rain not falling in right area to fill Lanier
A fisherman tries his luck Friday along the exposed sand bars of Lake Lanier near Thompson Bridge Park. The lake is just more than eight feet below full pool. - photo by Tom Reed

Strong thunderstorms, bringing with them heavy downpours, have rumbled through Northeast Georgia for several days in a row now, bringing much needed rainfall.

But you’d never know it looking at Lake Lanier.

At 9:15 p.m. Friday, Lake Lanier stood at 1,062.83 feet, virtually unchanged in the last 72 hours, despite the fact that 3.73 inches of rain have been recorded since Wednesday morning at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville.

But north of the lake — where rainfall will do the most good for the lake level — less rain has fallen.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers shows that in the past 24 hours, just more than a third of an inch of rain has flowed into Lanier, said Patrick Robbins, spokesman for the corps.

“It really depends on where the rain falls,” he said. “You need it to rain north of the lake and on the northern third of the lake to really see any difference.”

He said the corps is continuing to release “absolutely the minimum” necessary to maintain needed
flows downstream.

The lake stands just more than 8 feet below full pool, still a far cry from the record low of 1,050.79 recorded in 2007, but low enough to be of concern as a drought consumes much of Georgia.

Hall County is in what is considered a “moderate drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. But much of Georgia, especially the area of the Appalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin, is in an “extreme” or “exceptional” drought and has been for several months.

Strong thunderstorms have developed over Georgia for the past few days, some of them causing downed trees, power outages and minor damages to some structures. They’ve also produced substantial downpours. A thunderstorm on Thursday afternoon dumped nearly 1.5 inches of rain in Hall County in just more than an hour. A storm Wednesday dropped almost an inch.

But Lanier has stood virtually still. At 7 a.m. Wednesday, before the storms rolled in, Lanier was at 1,062.85 feet.

The chances of rainfall and more thunderstorms will drop off this weekend. Saturday will be mostly sunny with just a 30 percent chance of showers. Sunday looks to be beautiful with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 80s.

A slight chance of rainfall returns to the forecast next week.

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