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Rain helps replenish lake
Recent weather brings an end to mostly dry summer
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Sharon Rucker directs traffic in the rain Thursday at the end of the school day at Fair Street International Baccalaureate World School. More rain is expected through the weekend and will add to the level of the lake.

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Pam Knox, assistant state climatologist in Athens, talks about the rainy weather that won’t seem to go away.
More rain ahead
Here’s a look at the weather forecast for the Gainesville/Hall County area
Today: Showers likely during the day, thunderstorms at night
Saturday: Thunderstorms likely
Sunday: 50 percent chance of thunderstorms

Now is no time for a roof leak, but it’s a party for Lake Lanier.

This week’s rainfest, producing some 2-3 inches, has helped punch this year’s rainfall amount closer to the normal year-to-date total and already past September’s normal total, according to AccuWeather.com.

Ironically, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ weekly four-week projection of lake levels shows Lanier steadily dropping to about 1,063 feet above sea level from its current elevation, 1,064.51 feet.

“The levels ... were dropping due to low inflows and higher evaporation rates,” said corps spokeswoman Lisa Coghlan. “Also, generation of power has increased.”

Should the rain, which has come down in buckets at times and is predicted to continue through the weekend, reverse the downward trajectory?

“Absolutely,” Coghlan said Thursday. “It will within the next 24 hours. Complete runoff into the lake after any rain event is usually 24 to 48 hours.”

The effect, as of Thursday afternoon, had been minimal. The lake was at 1,064.29 feet on Tuesday.

Full pool is 1,071 feet, an elevation that hasn’t been reached since September 2005.

Extreme drought wrenched the area for about two years before a rainy winter and early spring basically erased rainfall deficits.

Lanier hit an all-time low of 1,050.79 feet on Dec. 26, 2007.

Until now, the summer had been fairly dry. Lanier hit 1,066.71 feet in mid-June, then started dropping.

But summer sure is ending on a soggy note.

According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, heavy rain is predicted for today and thunderstorms are likely on Saturday.

Thunderstorms remain in the forecast through Monday — fall begins on Tuesday — but the chances for them steadily decline.

“The basic weather situation we have right now is a broad area of low pressure out to the west of us,” said Pam Knox, assistant state climatologist.

“The center is generally over eastern Texas and Arkansas, and the circulation around this low-pressure center is drawing air up into Georgia from the Gulf of Mexico.”

She said the state is developing an El Niño climate pattern, which means cooler-than-normal temperatures and wetter-than-normal conditions during the winter.

“That’s more true in South Georgia, though,” Knox said. “It could be hit or miss (in North Georgia). It’s a little too early to say. ... (The El Niño) is still developing.”

Regional events