Will 2011 Be A Drought Year?

by: By David Chandley Updated:

ATLANTA,None - Wait and watch.

Those are the words concerning a spring/summer drought for North Georgia from the attendees of the Southeast Climate Outlook Forum held in Albany, GA.

Climatologists, Meteorologists, and Hydrologists from several southeastern states met for two days and the consensus is that we are in a La Nina pattern that may persist for two years. Historically that means warmer and drier winters for Georgia which would limit the water recharge period for our area lakes and their basins.

Jeff Dobur of the Southeast River Forecast Center tells me that lake levels and soil moisture are fairly normal for this time of year, but an extended dry period during the recharge months of January, February, and March would shoot us right into drought mode.

Here are the 30 and 90 day outlooks from the Climate Prediction Center. Warmer and drier weather is expected for the southeast, there will be cold snaps, but overall the temperature will average above normal.

30day Precip 30day Precip

30day Temp 30day Temp

90day Temp 90day Temp

But notice how close the gradient between above and below normal precipitation is on the 90 day precipitation outlook.

90day Precip 90day Precip

Dobur says a 50 to 80 mile shift of the wet weather would have a huge impact on our potential water supply.

Right now, the level at Lake Lanier has been hovering around 1068, below winter full pool of 1070, but well above the average of 1064. I checked on the level back in November 2006, prior to a La Nina, and the level was 1062. When the La Nina was in full swing, November 2007, the level had dropped to 1052.

Those at the forum, and I agree, that in 2010, we are in a much better place when it comes to lake levels and stream flows. That is why North Georgia is on a wait and see mode when it comes to the possibility of a drought in 2011.


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