0

Rain expected in area this weekend

By Johnny Jackson

jjackson@henryherald.com

A weather system making its way across the U.S. could provide some short-term relief to a parched Southern Crescent and metro Atlanta.

"We are looking for rain this weekend - about two inches in Henry [and Clayton counties]," said Kent Frantz, a service hydrologist with the National Weather Service.

Frantz said a developing low pressure system in the central plains is moving northeastward and will enter the area by Friday evening and become stationary. "That basically keeps us in a real wet pattern for about 24 hours," he said.

Most of Georgia had lifted out of advanced drought status late last year, but the situation has changed in the past two months.

South Georgia is experiencing a mild drought, while northwest portions of the state are abnormally dry. Northeast Georgia remains in severe to extreme drought, according to State Climatologist David Stooksbury. Metro Atlanta is experiencing drought conditions ranging from moderate to exceptional.

This winter, dryness and drought intensities have remained unchanged for most of the Southeastern region, said Richard Tinker of the Climate Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. He said declining stream flows and increasing precipitation deficits led to moderate drought through most of Georgia.

"Without significant rain in the next two months, Georgia is primed for another year of drought," said Stooksbury. "Over the past 30 days, almost the entire state has received less than half of normal rain."

Rainfalls between October and April usually recharge soils, groundwater, rivers and reservoirs.

Stooksbury said while the past two months have been extremely dry, total rainfall since October has been near normal across west Georgia and the lower Savannah River basin. Stream flows across the piedmont and northern coastal plain, however, are at or near record low flows for late February.

He said major reservoirs, including Lanier, Hartwell, Russell and Clarks Hill, remain near record lows with diminishing hope for recharge unless there is a major weather pattern shift over the next few months.

The outlook for the next 90 days, March through May, includes above-normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.