Extreme drought eases off, but moderate drought expands 

Posted: 12:00 pm Thursday, April 27th, 2017

By Kirk Mellish

Periods of soaking rain the past 7 days has eased off the extreme drought in North Georgia. However, rainfall deficits remain. In fact, while there has been a great deal of improvement in the severity of drought in North Georgia general drought has expanded across the state as a whole. But for now areas on Atlanta’s South side are no longer in drought.

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Heavy to excessive rainfall alleviated drought but triggered flooding across interior portions of the region, while hot, dry weather caused drought to intensify and expand farther south.

A slow-moving storm system coupled with abundant subtropical moisture generated 2 to 8 inches of rain from northern portions of Alabama and Georgia into the Carolinas and Virginia. As a result, 1- to 2-category reductions in drought were noted over the interior Southeast. Furthermore, with saturated soils, elevated streamflows, and local flooding, the remaining drought in the interior Southeast was changed to long-term (“L” on the map), indicating little — if any — dryness in the shorter term (6 months or less), but longer-term deficits remained.

For example, 12-month precipitation stood at 60 to 75 percent of normal in the interior Southeast’s Moderate to Extreme Drought (D1 to D3) areas.

Meanwhile, warmth (4-8°F above normal) and dryness led to additional expansion of D0, D1, and D2 from northern Florida into southern Alabama and Georgia.

Rainfall over the past 90 days has totaled a meager 20 to 40 percent of normal in the most severe drought areas, enhancing the risk for wildfires and depleting soil moisture supplies for crops and pastures. As of April 23, topsoil moisture stood at 64 percent short to very short in Florida.

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Some 5 million Georgia residents are still under some form of drought classification.

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Northeast Georgia and Central to South Florida are hardest hit. On a nationwide basis, drought is down to 6.1% ofthe lower 48, the least amount since monitoring began in 2000.

The prospect for more rain the next 7 days and into May looks good for much of Georgia.