From the forested mountains of Fannin County to the coastal plains of Lowndes County, the ongoing drought in Georgia is expected to worsen during the next few months.
In the April climate outlook, the most likely scenario is for below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures statewide. Climate outlooks are produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency's Climate Prediction Center.
Recent rains have brought only short-term drought relief. Rains have been helpful for crops already in the field and for early pasture growth. However, there remains little or no soil-moisture reserve statewide.
This lack of soil-moisture reserve is a major concern as Georgia enters the prime growing season. There is little hope for improvement over the next several months.
Summer Outlook: Hot, Dry
The news is not any better for April through June. For the period, the outlook once again is for an increased probability of below-normal rainfall and above-normal temperatures.
The June-through-August outlook predicts an increased probability of above-normal temperatures. However, there is some indication that by late summer, rainfall south of an Albany-to-Augusta line may be above normal.
Georgians, it appears, will have a long, hot, dry summer. Above-normal temperatures will dry the soil further through evaporation and plant transpiration. The hastened loss of soil moisture will aggravate drought conditions.
Low Stream Flows, Watering Bans
Stream flows and reservoir levels are expected to remain low all summer. Many urban residents will probably have earlier, longer-lasting watering bans. With the drought expected to go on, Georgians need to be saving water.
(David Emory Stooksbury is associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)