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Little rain from Hurricane Irene expected in region
Lake is 5 feet below full pool
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Hurricane Irene may bring no relief to rain-thirsty North Georgia.

The storm’s projected path on Monday showed Irene striking the U.S. anywhere from Florida to North Carolina by the week end.

Conditions could change as the week progresses, but the National Hurricane Center’s outlook Monday showed the Charleston, S.C., area as Irene’s most likely spot for landfall on Saturday.

“It’s looking like Georgia is going to have less and less of an impact,” said Kent McMullen, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. “It looks like North Georgia is going to have very little, if any, impact.

“We’re just on the wrong side of (Irene) to get much of anything. ... It would have to get closer for us to get at least some showers.”

Typically, Northeast Georgia catches just the rainy remnants, if anything, from storms that churn ashore from the Atlantic Ocean. Especially strong storms, such as 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which developed in the Gulf of Mexico, have dumped heavy rain on the area and spawned tornadoes.

During this hot, dry summer, Georgia could sure use a big drink of water.

Although thundershowers have helped a bit, particularly in South Georgia, the entire state is in some form of drought and has been for a while. Hall County has “abnormally dry” conditions and a small part of East Hall is in “moderate drought,” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Lake Lanier now stands at 1,065.64 feet above sea level, or more than 5 feet below its normal full pool of 1,071 feet, and is exposing a fair amount of shoreline.

The last time the lake was lower was Sept. 20, 2009, or during the 2007-09 drought that drained the lake to a historic low of 1,050.79 feet on Dec. 26, 2007.

Lisa Coghlan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ office in Mobile, Ala., has said she is keeping her eyes on the tropics.

The Atlantic basin is expected to see an above-normal hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30, and the season has yet to reach its peak.

“That could be a game changer,” Coghlan said.

Lack of rainfall, particularly in South Georgia, is driving the lower elevations at Lake Lanier, which is part of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin that flows into the Gulf of Mexico.

Regardless of Irene, the Hall County area could catch some rain later in the week.

A chance of thunderstorms is in the forecast Wednesday through Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Other good news: Temperatures are getting cooler, with daytime highs in the 80s and lows in the upper 60s through the rest of the week.

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