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Gwinnett suffering from extreme drought

LAWRENCEVILLE - An already hotter than normal June officially brought extreme drought into Gwinnett's lexicon Wednesday. According to David Stooksbury, the state's climatologist, drought conditions statewide have also worsened.

"Conditions in the western half of south and middle Georgia have deteriorated the most," Stooksbury said in a statement. "A few weeks ago, these regions were classified as abnormally dry. They are now in severe drought," he said.

Severe drought conditions occur about once every 20 years.

Stooksbury also said Gwinnett County is in an extreme drought stage, an occurrence that comes once every 50 years. He said much of north-central and northeast Georgia is in this stage and the biggest concerns over the coming weeks will be stream flows and soil moisture. Stooksbury said a survey of U.S. Geological stream gauges showed that nearly half of them across Georgia are at record lows. He also indicated the gauge below Buford Dam was not included in the survey. Pool levels at Lake Lanier on Wednesday were 14.5 feet below full.

Stooksbury reaffirmed that the best chance for widespread drought relief was through tropical disturbances, which usually come later in the summer.

Laura Griffith of the National Weather Service said rainfall at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport - the nearest measuring point to Gwinnett County - was 2.57 inches below average for the month of June. She also said Atlanta was on pace for one of its five driest Junes on record courtesy of a temperature 3.4 degrees above average.

She did offer a glimmer of hope, though. She said there were rains forecast in south Georgia that should be pushing their way through Gwinnett on Thursday afternoon. She also put a 50 to 60 percent chance on the county receiving showers and thunderstorms this weekend.

Current water level and forecast at Lake Lanier