Lanier levels rise nearly two feet

BUFORD -- How often does Alex Laidlaw check the weather?

"Every single day," said Laidlaw, vice president for Westrec, a company that manages Holiday Marina on Lake Lanier. He said that following the historic drought of 2007-09, professionals in his line of work pay even more attention to what meteorologists have to say.

Despite nearly eight inches of rain over the past two weeks, weather experts said it's going to take a lot more precipitation than that to change the area's drought status. Meanwhile, Lake Lanier levels rose about two feet.

A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City said Lake Lanier rose higher than 1,058 feet above sea level for the first time since Nov. 23.

"We're still about 12 feet below winter full pool," said Alex Gibbs, meteorologist.

The lake has been steadily rising since Dec. 19, when it fell to its lowest level since Jan. 16, 2009. At that time, the region was in a fierce two-year drought.

Gibbs said the area has seen nearly 8 inches of rain over the past two weeks.

As far as continued conditions go, Gibbs said that "despite some good rainfalls, we're going to need multiple other rain events, because our area of severe to exceptional drought has not changed that much."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced in December that it had agreed to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' request to reduce water releases from the lake.

"That was good news," Laidlaw said. "And right now we are all cautiously optimistic."

After the effects of the 2007-09 drought, Laidlaw said they're likely ready for just about anything.

"We spent a lot of money and time dredging and rearranging docks," Laidlaw said. "We're much better prepared for drought conditions now,"

--The Associated Press contributed to this report