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Rain just a drop in drought bucket

LAWRENCEVILLE - Despite much needed rain on Friday and more expected through the weekend, it won't be enough to pull Gwinnett County out of moderate drought conditions.

According to the National Weather Service and a report released this past week by the state's top climatologist David Stooksbury, Georgia remains in a moderate drought.

"So far we're just over five inches below average for the year," forecaster Mike Leary said, speaking of conditions at DeKalb's Peachtree Airport, the nearest site to Gwinnett County. "But as of 1 p.m. Friday we received 0.60 inches in the last six hours."

Leary said forecasts for the weekend predicted the area could receive an additional 1.5 to 2 inches of rain.

Through Thursday, Lake Lanier was just over 14 feet below full pool level, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

According to Stooksbury, Georgia's drought situation could get worse this year because an abnormally dry spring could be in store.

"Since the beginning of the year, the climate pattern has gradually shifted to a weak La Nina," Stooksbury said. "This change is expected to have a major influence on the state's spring climate."

Stooksbury said that while there are no guarantees, spring will likely be drier than normal for most of Georgia. He said March will have wide swings in temperature and said severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are common for this time of year.

"A late freeze or even a snow or an ice storm isn't out of the question," he said.

Leary confirmed that snow could come as early as Sunday morning up until Sunday evening.

"There is a possibility," he said. "But the ground is too warm for anything to stick."