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Drought Monitor 2017

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A long-term drought continues across the region

It’s been a couple months since we last visited the drought that has been persisting across Northern Georgia for the better part of the past year, as things improved considerably across much of the region during January. The month of February has been quite dry, though, leading to an increase in fire danger across the area and once again worsening drought conditions.

During the month of January, Cornelia saw .82″ ABOVE average precip, the first month above average since last August (+.14″), and only the second above average month since last February. The same occurred for most of the reporting stations around the region.

The map to the right highlights the latest from the Drought Monitor. Whereas just 3 months ago the drought included 100% of the state, it now covers only 33.74%, just over a third. None of the state is considered in “exceptional” drought (down from 33% on November 22), and all other categories have of course seen major reduction as well. Habersham County is still considered in an “extreme” drought, but this drought is categorized as long term rather than short term. You can compare this with the maps below from 2 and 3 months ago and see the major improvement.

The bad news is that the last month or so we’ve seen a dryer pattern emerge, and that trend looks to continue for a while. Most reporting stations were between 3-4″ below average for February which has helped revive the short-term drought somewhat. The rains to kick off March will certainly help with this, and I don’t foresee March being quite as dry as February.

While there are plenty of weather systems to track over the next 1-2 weeks, most of these systems don’t have much potential to bring widespread, persistent heavy rain to the region.

12 month rainfall deficits run anywhere from 26″ in Dahlonega to 21″ in Gainesville, with 3 month deficits in the 2-4″ range. All stations saw major improvement (several inches) from December to January in both categories.

Here are some of the local 12 month rainfall deficits as of 2/28/17 (with 1 month change in parentheses): 

Dahlonega: -26.41″ (-4.01″)

Toccoa: -25.71″(-4.45″)

Elberton: -21.61″ (-2.5″)

Gainesville: -21.49″ (-2.75″)

 Clayton: -28.78″ (-7.09″) *missing some data for February

Cornelia: -28.14″ (-4.28″) *missing some data for February

For comparison, here are the 3 month rainfall deficits(as of 2/28/17) for the same stations:

Elberton:-2.7″

Gainesville: -3.3″

Dahlonega: -4.74″

Toccoa:-4.78″

Cornelia: -5.02″ *missing some data from February

Clayton: -8.08″ *missing some data from February

And here are a few of the current lake level deficits (as of 3/2/17):

Lanier: -10.05′

Hartwell: -9.72′

Chatuge:-7.12′

Burton: -.42′

Russell: -.27′

Stay with Now Habersham for the latest on the drought and other weather news and information.

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