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Wet, stormy week could be in store for area
As summer slips into fall, this week's forecast rain could ease drought conditions
Caine McGriff of Gainesville spins daughter Lyla, 4, around on the playground Sunday at Wilshire Trails Park. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Hall County's long, dry summer could exit on a soggy note.

Thunderstorms and showers are in the forecast through Friday, the start of fall, with the best chance for rain starting Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

Rain, especially a steady amount over the next few days, would bring much-needed relief to the drought-stricken area, which has about an 8-inch deficit for the year.

Hall is in moderate to severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Neb.

Most of the state is in extreme drought. A portion of extreme North Georgia has normal conditions, thanks to remnants of Tropical Storm Lee, which passed through Labor Day weekend.

Lake Lanier's elevation, meanwhile, keeps dropping.

It stood at 1,063.21 feet above sea level Sunday, or just mere inches from the point at which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers enacts its "low water action plan," said Ernest Noe, chief ranger for the corps.

At that level, the corps can no longer issue boat dock permits, a process it restarted in January 2010, after the 2007-2009 drought, Noe has said.

During the last drought, the lake dropped to a historic low of 1,050.79 feet and left many docks on dry ground.

The lake hasn't been this low since April 20, 2009, when it was at 1,063.31 feet.

Forecasters have said the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, which runs until Nov. 30, is the region's best shot for drought-busting rainfall, as September and October are typically among the driest months of the year.

And no major tropical systems are in the works. Two Atlantic areas between South America and Africa have only a slight chance, at this point, of "cyclone formation," according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

As for this week, the National Weather Service is predicting a 20 percent chance for thunderstorms today, with the likelihood rising to 30 percent tonight through Tuesday night and 50 percent Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday, the chance for showers drops to 20 percent.

The rain chance is gone by Friday night, but skies aren't expected to be sunny again until Sunday.

Also, temperatures are expected to hover in the upper 70s through lower 80s throughout the week, the weather agency forecasts.