State to sink deeper into drought
Spring rains weren't enough to erase deficit

LAWRENCEVILLE - Drought conditions in north Georgia are expected to worsen over the summer, and hot, dry weather could exacerbate the situation, the state climatologist said.

One indicator used in drought classification - stream flow - currently shows there is a major concern, said David Stooksbury, who is also a professor of engineering and atmospheric sciences in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The Chattahoochee River at Cornelia - the last gauge before the river enters Lake Lanier - was flowing at 233 cubic feet per second on

Friday, which is about one-third of the normal flow, Stooksbury said. That matches the point's low flow record set in 1988, he said.

"We're starting to beat a 50-year record," he said, adding, "Conditions will worsen if it's just a normal summer. Hot, dry weather will aggravate it even more so - it will make it that much more worse."

The 90-day rainfall deficit also indicates worsening conditions, Stooksbury said. At Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the rainfall deficit is 2.66 inches - and that's been one of the wetter places in the state, he said. In Athens, the 90-day deficit is 4.64 inches.

The spring rains may have given some people the perception the drought was improving, but Stooksbury said that's not the case. The rains were "regularly spaced events," but the rainfall was much less than normal.

"With a week of temperatures in the 90s, we're starting to see lawns are quickly turning brown," he said.

To alleviate the situation, Stooksbury said some sort of tropical disturbance is needed. Scattered thunderstorms may provide temporary local relief, but several inches of rain are needed over several days, he said.

Mike Griesinger, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Peachtree City office, said scattered afternoon thunderstorms could appear in the area Tuesday or Wednesday.