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Rains to exit, bring cool weather to region
Lanier dips below 1,069 feet after abnormally dry summer
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More rainfall is expected through today in parched Northeast Georgia, and perhaps in heavy doses. But expect it to move quickly out of the area and usher in cooler temperatures.

The National Weather Service in Peachtree City was predicting Sunday that a 70 percent chance of rain is expected today and a lesser chance for showers tonight.

A flood watch for Hall and area counties is set to expire this evening.

Rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are predicted over North and Middle Georgia. Flash flooding could particularly occur in mountainous and urban areas of North Georgia, according to the Weather Service.

All in all, the rain is a “very welcome” sight, said David Kimbrell, Hall County fire chief.

“Luckily, the burn ban for ozone has kept people from burning,” he said.

Since May 1, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division has prohibited burning in 54 counties around Atlanta to help reduce air pollution in the smoggy summer months.

The burn ban ends Sept. 30.

At that point, “we will have to make a local decision about ... whether we will extend the ban for dry weather,” Kimbrell said.

After Tuesday, when there’s a slight chance of showers, dry weather is expected to return.

Mostly or partly cloudy skies are forecast through Saturday, according to the Weather Service.

The good news for area residents is that the sizzling heat is gone for now. High temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 70s or low 80s for the rest of the week.

Before Sunday, the Hall County area had seen about 34 inches of rain for the year, or nearly 7 inches below the average.

And while those numbers aren’t as bad as they were during the two-year drought that ended in 2009, consider the dry weather’s impact on Lanier:

For the first time this year, levels dropped below 1,069 feet above sea level on Sept. 16. As of late Sunday, Lanier stood at 1,068.78 feet.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, forecasts levels gradually declining over the next four weeks, although still way above the historical average elevations.

The last time the lake was at full pool, or 1,071 feet, was June 22. The last significant rainfall took place on July 17, when 2.62 inches fell on Buford Dam.