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Lake levels and drought conditions improving
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Although a ways off from being back to normal, Lake Lanier's water level has benefited from recent thunderstorms that have soaked the region with rainfall.

As of Tuesday evening, the lake's level sat at 1,060.03 feet, compared to the historical average of 1,066 feet.

"We are still a ways out but normally October and November are our really dry months and then once we roll through December, January and continue forward, the months get wetter," said Lisa Coghlan, spokeswoman for the Army Corps of Engineers Mobile district.

Despite the low lake levels, though, Coghlan said the corps is still required to release water from Buford Dam for various project purposes.

The water level has risen by more than 2 inches in the past week due to the rainfall and overnight rainfall was expected to dump even more water into the lake. Another inch is expected to fall into the lake in the next couple of days.

"The good news is the rain has fallen over the Lake Lanier basin and that's always the most important thing," said Brian Lynn, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

State Climatologist Bill Murphey said the recent rainfall, although not a large amount, has been beneficial to conditions downstream.

"This is beneficial rainfall that we have had. It's been beneficial ever since the end of December because these types of systems have helped ... stream flow conditions and things like that," Murphey said.

Drought conditions have seen a better outlook in Northeast Georgia in recent months compared to the conditions in South Georgia that continue to have a gloomy outlook, Murphey said.

"They have had a little help down there ... but not as much as the North Georgia areas," he said.

The latest drought monitor shows much of the state in an extreme drought. More than 60 percent of the state falls into that category, while most of Hall County has had a better outlook.

Recently, parts of South Hall have benefited from rainfall and much of that area has been placed under moderate drought conditions.

"Hall County has done well since the last drought monitor came out," Murphey said. "Part of it's in moderate and the top part is in dry conditions."

Forecasters project the lake level to reach 1,061 feet by mid-January, according to the National Weather Service, which tracks projected lake levels five weeks out.

After an expected storm front passes, though, forecasters don't expect a significant amount of rainfall for at least the next week.


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