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MEDIA NEWSWIRE

March Rains Far From End to Drought


Graphic: U.S. Climate Prediction Center

The Seasonal U.S. Drought Outlook through May 2001 (released Feb. 16) depicts long-term trends. Short-term events such as individual storms cannot be accurately forecast more than a few days in advance.
Early March rains have caused some minor flooding in central Georgia but have brought little relief from the drought. Without substantial additional rains, the three-year drought will persist through the summer across the state.

West central and central Georgia received 000D generous rain 31AB over the weekend, with Americus reporting 5.0 inches, Buena Vista 5.1, Butler 3.9, Columbus reporting 5.0, Covington 2.4, Macon 3.5, Milledgeville 4.8, Montezuma 3.8, Sandersville 3.4 and Talbotton 4.9.

Most Amounts More Modest

Lesser amounts were reported elsewhere in the state. North Georgia examples include Cartersville receiving 1.0 inches, Lafayette 0.9, Athens 1.7, Atlanta 1.8, Blairsville 0.5 and Carnesville 1.1.

East central Georgia examples include Augusta receiving 1.9 inches, Louisville 2.5 and Warrenton 2.9.

Across south Georgia, Cairo had 2.6 inches, Camilla 4.4, Douglas 2.4, Tifton 2.8, Alma 0.6, Brunswick 0.5, Folkston 1.1, Jesup 0.7, Savannah 1.1 and Waycross 0.9.

Rainfall Deficits the Rule

Even with recent rains, most locations in Georgia are reporting rainfall deficits for the year. The exceptions are portions of Bartow, Floyd, Haralson, Paulding and Polk counties in northwest Georgia. For the year, Athens is 2.27 inches below normal, Atlanta 2.15, Augusta 2.01, Columbus 1.59, Macon 2.71, Savannah 3.86 and Tifton 4.74.

These values have improved over the past week. However, with normal weekly rainfall ranging from 1.1 to 1.4 inches across the state, conditions can quickly deteriorate if the rain doesn't continue.


Graphic: U.S. Climate Prediction Center

Even with the recent rains, national Climate Prediction Center models indicate that soil moisture remains very low across north and south Georgia. Recent rains have brought soil moisture levels across the central part of the state to near normal.

Stream Flows Improve

Stream flows have shown recovery from record to near-record low flows late last week. However without additional rains, this recovery will be short-lived, and streams will return to extremely low levels.

Even with the helpful recent rains, drought conditions are expected to continue across the state. We will need several more rains like last weekend's to have any significant, long-lasting impacts on the drought in Georgia.

(David Emory Stooksbury is associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Pam Knox serves as University of Georgia Agricultural Climatologist with UGA Department of Crop and Soil Science.)

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