“Next week’s NOAA maps should show that Carroll County’s drought status has moved from D-2 (severe) to D-1 (moderate),” state Climatologist Bill Murphey said Wednesday. “Carroll County had 8.27 inches of rain in the past month, which is well above average.”
Local water authority officials and farmers are optimistic that the drought and water woes may soon be a thing of the past.
“Our reservoirs are as full as they possibly can be,” said Carrollton water plant Supervisor Connie Nelms. “Lake Buckhorn has been full since before Christmas and Sharp Creek has been full since the end of January. These rains have helped a lot.”
City rain gauge readings show that 9.58 inches of rain have fallen since the first of the year. January had 6.34 inches and 3.24 inches have already fallen in February, with more than half the month to go. Rains for the entire month of February in 2011 and 2012 never reached the 3-inch level, coming in at 2.82 and 2.34 inches, respectively.
Matt Windom, executive director of the Carroll County Water Authority, said it was a similar situation at the county’s Snake Creek reservoir.
“The water level has risen more than six feet since December,” Windom said. “In December, we were 98 inches below normal pool. Now, we’re 24 inches below. It’s risen 74 inches since then. January and February have both been wet months, but it’s difficult to tell what the weather will do in the months ahead.”
Chuck Joiner of Carrollton, president of the Georgia Cattlemen’s Association, said he’s optimistic about this year’s rainfall.
“The recent rains have recharged a lot of ponds and lakes,” Joiner said. “We should have good rye grass and fescue crops for hay. If the rains keep up, we’ll be fine. We already have a good amount of moisture in the soil, but when it gets hot, that dries out quickly. The long range forecast is near normal for moisture.”
The recent three-month NOAA forecast shows that Carroll County and the west Georgia region may continue to get lots of rainfall through April, said Nyasha Dunkley, the deputy state climatologist.
“The seasonal drought outlook calls for improvements in north and central Georgia,” Dunkley said. “Several storm systems have already dumped good rain over the area, and hopefully, that will continue.”
The climatic picture has changed dramatically since early December when the NOAA map showed most of Carroll County in the severe (D-2) level, with the southeastern tip in the extreme (D-3) level and one small part in the highest level, exceptional (D-4). The map released Feb. 5 shows the D-3 and D-4 levels completely gone from the county.
Central Georgia continues to be plagued with exceptional drought levels, while a horseshoe-shaped belt of extreme level drought stretches down the state’s southwest border, across the middle of the state and down the Atlantic coastline.
The National Weather Service 10-day forecast shows another band of tropical showers likely reaching Georgia late next week.