Getting Drier.

first_img Below 10th percentile Source: U.S. Geological Survey As Georgia enters its third straight year of drought, conditions continue to worsen.There is no sign of relief as summer nears. With very little rain and temperatures in the80s and 90s, soils statewide are drying fast.Since January 1, rainfall has been well below normal across the state. As of May 15,Athens had received 57 percent, Atlanta 58 percent, Augusta 66 percent, Columbus 64percent, Macon 60 percent, Rome 58 percent, Savannah 75 percent and Tifton 56 percent ofnormal rainfall.Computer soil-moisture models from the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ClimatePrediction Center show soil moisture at or near record-low levels.Soil moisture in the western half of the state is extremely low. It is near the firstpercentile in many places. This means that in 99 of 100 years, soil moisture would behigher than it is now.Georgia Rivers Register Record-Low Flows Explanation New record low for daycenter_img Streams south of an Athens-to-Atlanta line are at or near record-low daily flows. Record lowflows for May 15 are being reported on the Chattahoochee River at Atlanta and nearWhitesburg.Other daily record-low flows are being reported on the Flint River near Culloden and atMontezuma, Albany and Newton; on the Ocmulgee near Jackson and at Macon; and on LittleRiver near Washington. The Oconee and Altamaha Rivers are near record-low flows.Agriculture Feeling ImpactAgriculture is feeling the impact of the prolonged drought. In some Georgia areas,farmers have stopped planting because of poor seed germination. Crops that have beenplanted are showing moisture stress.Many farmers have started irrigating crops. They are thus drawing down farm ponds andgroundwater early in the growing season. Pastures are fast deteriorating.With the dry soils and warm weather, the wildfire threat is extremely high across thestate. Alan Dozier of the GeorgiaForestry Commission reports that since Jan. 1, the state has had 10 percent morewildfires, with twice the normal acres burned.Little Hope for ReliefThere is little hope for statewide relief during the next several months.Georgia is now in the time of the year when soil-moisture loss from evaporation andplant use (transpiration) normally exceeds rainfall. So even if normal rainfall patternsreturn during the summer, soil moisture will remain extremely low.The most likely result is that soil moisture levels will continue to decline during thesummer.The most likely form of relief during the summer is a tropical weather system. However, thereis a big price to pay for that relief.Tropical weather systems can and do bring flooding and wind damage statewide.Ironically, while we are in a drought, Georgians need to be preparing for possibleflooding and wind damage, too, as we enter hurricane season in a couple of weeks. O Not ranked 10th – 24th percentilelast_img read more