Dry conditions to return

Jim Blaylock/Staff
Canada geese swim on the pond at Spring Lakes. So far in June, the Augusta area has received more than four inches of rain, but the area remains five inches below normal rainfall for the year.

More than a quarter of the region's total 2006 rainfall has fallen in the past two weeks, but weather officials say they don't expect the showers to keep coming.


"It's very beneficial," said Bruce Cherry, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C., "but don't get too used to it. We're not even officially into summer yet."

Mr. Cherry said Thursday that the Augusta area remains five inches below normal rainfall for the year, and a pattern of upper-level disturbances in the atmosphere, which has caused a week of pop-up showers, could be ending.

"This is kind of an unsettled pattern that we're in. That (the extra rain) doesn't happen very often," he said, adding that drier conditions should return this weekend. By the middle of next week, he said, there is another chance of rain and then normal dry conditions for this time of year should return.

As of Thursday, the area had received 15.86 inches of rain for the year. That's 5.12 inches below normal, Mr. Cherry said. The U.S. Drought Monitor for Georgia on Thursday showed Richmond and Columbia counties with abnormally dry condition, but that's three drought stages better than the Atlanta area, which is experiencing extreme drought conditions.

So far in June, Mr. Cherry said, the Augusta area has received 4.35 inches of rain, which is 0.16 inches more than normal for the month. Such an abundance of rain, officials say, has helped tremendously with the area's water supply.

"It's cut our demand about in half," said Billy Clayton, Columbia County's waterworks director. The rain also has cut down on the number of people violating the area's outdoor watering rules, he said.

For today, the National Weather Service is predicting a 60 percent chance of rain in the afternoon, with a high of 82 and a low of 64.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.