By Johnny Jackson
Warmer, drier weather may linger this spring for much of north Georgia, according to weather experts.
"It's too early to say about the summer," said State Climatologist David Emory Stooksbury. "The spring outlook is, more or less, following what we thought it would do. We were expecting early spring to be cooler than normal, and a tad drier than normal."
Temperatures pushed past 80 degrees late last week in metro Atlanta, according to the National Weather Service Forecast Office. High temperatures are expected to continue to be in the low- to mid-80s until Thursday.
The National Weather Service also reported a 3.84-inch March rainfall total at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, compared to the 5.05-inch norm for the month.
"We do know mid-to-late spring, following an El Nino winter, often times becomes warmer than normal and drier than normal," Stooksbury said. "We still are expecting the later half of spring to be drier than normal, and warmer than normal."
Stooksbury said weather patterns indicate there could be at least another month of infrequent precipitation in the region.
"What this reminds us is that water is a valuable gift and we need to use it wisely," he added. "The good thing is that going into this spring, our reservoirs were full, stream flows were high, soil moisture was high, and ground-water levels were in good shape."
Reservoirs in Henry County, for instance, are at their collective 18-billion-gallon capacity, according to Roderick Burch, finance director of the Henry County Water and Sewerage Authority.
Burch said the authority has about 18 months worth of water supply among its five reservoirs, which include the 1,400-acre Tussahaw Reservoir, and the 1,200-acre Towaliga Reservoir. The reservoirs, he said, draw water from watersheds that originate in the county.
"When you have rain during the winter months, there's a lot of water in the ground that flows into the streams," he said. "And the streams are still flowing into our reservoirs."
The Clayton County Water Authority reported full pool levels among its five reservoirs, whose combined storage capacity is 4.1 billion gallons.
Some water conservation will be necessary in order to keep levels high, according to Suzanne Brown, of the Clayton County Water Authority.
"We're always educating, trying to make sure customers use water wisely and don't waste water," Brown said. "Make sure that they are only running dishwashers and washing machines when they have full loads."
Georgia's Environmental Protection Division eased outdoor water restrictions on June 10, 2009, declaring the state in non-drought status. The state's non-drought schedule for outdoor water use allows odd-numbered addresses to water on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; even-numbered addresses to water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays, and no outdoor watering on Fridays.
Northwest Georgia may have its next chance at rain starting Wednesday night, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Verona Murrell.
Murrell said the north-Georgia rains are expected to spread throughout the rest of the state Thursday, when metro Atlanta stands a 60-percent chance of experiencing thunderstorms. However, storm chances should diminish overnight.
"For Friday, it looks like it's dry again," Murrell noted. "It looks like it will probably be a progressive system, and won't linger and may produce less than an inch on average."
Murrell said high temperatures have been warmer than average for this time of year in north Georgia, and will continue to be in the 80s, cooling down into the 70s on Thursday and into the 60s on Friday.