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This week's rain just a drop in the bucket
Storms make little dent in drought
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Pedestrians carry umbrellas as they visit downtown Dahlonega Wednesday as heavy rains move through the area. Officials say this week's rains had little effect on the drought.

We’re not out of the woods yet, even after heavy rainfall the last two days of November. Both days brought little lasting difference to worsening drought conditions.

“It’s going to be a good bit longer, it’s going to take a long time for it to take effect,” state climatologist Bill Murphey said. “Deficits across the area are definitely high.”

Out of the 30 days in the month of November, only four saw any kind of measurable precipitation, with both Nov. 13 and 14 getting 0.04 inches of rain.

Murphey said the report from the last 180 days showed that Hall County is 12 to 16 inches below normal, especially in the northern part of the county. Lumpkin County is even worse off at 16 to 18 inches below normal.

“Every little bit helps,” he said. Murphey also said there’s a good chance for more rain to come Sunday and Monday.

Most of the rainfall came from the two back-to-back days, but neither day saw a full inch of rain.

On Nov. 29, 0.90 inches fell, and 0.68 inches fell on Nov. 30, according to the National Weather Service.

Lake Lanier’s levels saw very little change after the two days. The lake’s full summer pool is 1,071 feet, and its winter full pool is 1,070 feet.

At the start of the day Nov. 29, the pool was at 1060.67 feet and it rose to only 1060.81 feet by the end of the day. The next day showed a similar pattern, with the level start at 1060.81 feet and its end at 1060.88.

Overall, the difference the two days of heavy rain made was very minor, with less than an inch of change.

Murphey said the lake will take longer to show any effect of rain because the headwaters need to recharge.

“It takes a long time to get into a drought, and it takes a long time to get out of one,” he said.

The most positive effect of the recent rain, he said, is that it helped the wildfires die down. When areas are in a long-term drought, they are more likely to catch fire, he said.

The Corps of Engineers reported that on Oct. 28-30, the lake was showing at an average of 1063.33 feet, while this month had an average of 1061.44 feet, close to two inches higher than this month.

Altogether, November racked up 1.66 inches of rain this year. The normal amount for this time of year, according to the National Weather Service, is 4.34 inches.

While this November had close to the lowest reported rate of rainfall, 2016 was beat out by 2001, which had 1.59 inches.

Rain was even more sparse in 2012, when only 1.16 inches of rain fell in November.

The highest rainfall since 2000 was recorded in 2015, with 11.23 inches.

Hall County is divided in half in terms of its drought classification. The southern half is classified as extreme drought and the other northern half as exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

An estimated 8,980,678 people are affected by the drought in Georgia, according to the drought monitor.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports from Nov. 27 indicated 93 percent of the subsoil moisture in Georgia was short to very short of moisture, and the topsoil moisture worsened from 92 percent short to very short last week to 98 percent this week.

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