LAWRENCEVILLE - The drought has receded somewhat, Lake Lanier is at its highest point in nearly two years and an unusually wet March is the reason why.
How unusual has the recent rainfall been? With more than seven inches of rain received so far this month at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, it's more than two inches above the historical average.
According to the state's top climatologist David Stooksbury, that's good news for a state that's been so dry the past few years.
"An unusual wet March has brought major relief to north Georgia and only the Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell basins are now in drought," Stooksbury said. "The remainder of north Georgia is drought-free."
Stooksbury said the only counties in north Georgia now experiencing moderate drought conditions are Union, Towns, Rabun, Lumpkin, White, Habersham, Hall and Stephens. He said abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions still exist across south Georgia, however. He also said long-term rainfall deficits for much of the state is still a concern.
According to forecaster Mike Leary of the National Weather Service, metro Atlanta is still a little more than one inch below average for the amount of rain received so far this year. He added that could change during the course of this week.
"We're definitely in a little bit of a rain pattern through next Monday," Leary said.
He said the probability of receiving rain tonight was 100 percent.
The rainfall received by metro Atlanta so far in March put Monday's afternoon measurement of Lake Lanier at 1060.56 feet above sea level, just a little more than 10 feet below full pool. That is not only the lake's highest point of the year, but also its highest point since Sept. 16, 2007.
The water level at Lake Lanier has climbed more than a foot in the last 10 days alone. On March 20, it stood at 1059.02 feet. The lake's lowest measurement of 2009 came Jan 1. when it measured 1053.13 feet. A full Lake Lanier is when pool levels measure at 1071.