Rain this week could stall drought in Augusta

Experts plan to watch the weather closely

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Weather over the next few weeks will be crucial in determining whether Augusta experiences a drought this summer.

Pam Knox, Georgia's assistant state climatologist, said Monday that if the area doesn't get at least an inch of rain this week it could head into a classification of D-zero, meaning abnormally dry conditions -- a precursor to drought.

"We're going to be looking pretty closely at that this week," she said.

As of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service was predicting a 30 percent chance of rain for today, 20 percent for Wednesday and no more rain chances until Sunday.

Knox said if Augusta were to go another week or two beyond that with completely dry conditions it would then likely enter a D-1 category, or moderate drought.

"So far, Georgia has really just barely escaped the D-zero designation," she said. "Generally, you need an inch of rain a week (in the summer) to stay even."

Already, all of South Carolina has been listed in incipient drought, a first level of drought status. That determination was made July 9 by the South Carolina State Climatology Office.

Knox said just 2.9 inches of rain has been measured at Augusta Regional Airport since summer began, which is less than half the normal figure. Since Jan. 1, the Augusta area has received 16.42 inches of rainfall -- 9.36 inches below normal, said Bruce Cherry, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C.

Knox said concern has grown lately over the area's lack of rain -- something it typically gets in the summer from the remnants of tropical storms. Few storms, though, have developed, despite an earlier prediction for a busy tropical season.

Last year, the Augusta area was in D-zero status from June through September, according to the National Integrated Drought Information System. Augusta was last in a drought in February 2009, and it experienced a more severe drought through the summer of 2008 and until that November, according to NIDIS data.

Knox said her office monitors dry conditions to see whether they're having any effect on crop yields.

"We haven't had a whole lot of reports of impacts yet," she said, but noted that her office wants to hear from Georgians if they start to experience problems.

As for outdoor watering guidelines, Drew Goins, the assistant director of Augusta's Utilities Department, said the state Environmental Protection Division determines when restrictions need to be increased. Tim Cash, an assistant branch chief with the EPD's watershed protection branch, said it typically takes back-to-back months of drought conditions before the EPD imposes stiffer outdoor watering restrictions.

New watering guidelines

Last month, outdoor watering guidelines changed because of the new water conservation law signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Previously, local residents could do outdoor watering on an even-odd schedule at any time of the day -- even addresses on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and odd addresses on Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays.

The new law allows landscape watering any day of the week regardless of address but only between the hours of 4 p.m. and 10 a.m. Non-landscape watering, such as car washing, can occur any time of the day, but only on the even-odd day schedule.

For more information on the new guidelines, go to www.augustaga.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=2594.

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omnomnom 07/19/10 - 11:29 am
i've been watering the tomato

i've been watering the tomato and cucumbers twice a day, ma'am, we arredy in a drought.

Taylor B
Taylor B 07/19/10 - 11:31 am
Why is this still being

Why is this still being called abnormal? Seems like we go through this every year...

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 07/19/10 - 12:08 pm
What is "kind of surprising"

What is "kind of surprising" is that Pam Knox drinks the kool-aid of NOAA when they make those ridiculous tropical storm forecasts for a whole season. They have never been right on a single forecast for how many tropical storms, hurricanes, etc. It is a guess at best.

chipshirley 07/19/10 - 12:45 pm
Nobody running for any public

Nobody running for any public office in this state is even talking about, how in the world our state is going to deal with losing access to the Lanier reservoir in less than two years!

This is practically the only issue the Governor has worked on for the last year and he should have started on it years ago....

Yet still our candidates running for state offices, US Congressional offices and even Governor just go on blissfully slinging the standard rhubarb at each other about who is most 'left' or 'right' or whatever....

And when the Federal government has to finally declare that GA is in a crisis and they step in and manage the problem and force us to build a new reservoir all of our grits-for-brains political leadership will bipartisanly pitch a snit fit about how the Fed's are overstepping.

Georgia = Dogpatch USA,

Richmnd Cty Votr
Richmnd Cty Votr 07/19/10 - 02:12 pm
With todays technology,

With todays technology, "SEEDING CLOUDS", for one. Why should anyone worry today? Other countries have been doing this for years for the farmers. What worries me more than seeding the clouds is the "UNSEEDING of CLOUDS". (gov't creating the GLOBAL WARMING effect, perhaps) They claim the stuff in diapers may be able to absorb clouds. If you don't believe me, just do a search of SST and Seeding Clouds. They do it with "Dry Ice" and Silver Oxide. Of course then there are the questions? What effect will this technology have on me and my property. The Insurance Companies have been unseeding the clouds to prevent Hail damage, etc. I have often wondered if Airports would unseed the clouds so their flight can arrive on time? I read one article and they claim to be able to control the weather by 2020.

Richmnd Cty Votr
Richmnd Cty Votr 07/19/10 - 02:52 pm
One other note, I read where

One other note, I read where Thailand seeded the clouds to rain. And they had such an abundance of crops, the prices went down. Interesting, reading to say the least. Teachers, is this in all our Science Books being taught today?

humbleopinion 07/20/10 - 06:39 am
It's Obama's fault. Georgia

It's Obama's fault. Georgia voted Republican in the last election so the messiah is punishing us by withholding rain. After all, HE controls the universe.............or at least the Democrats THINK he does.

curly123053 07/20/10 - 07:55 am
Part of the numbers the

Part of the numbers the climatologists go by are misleading in these reports. The ONLY figures they go by for this area are Bush Field's rainfall. I know that a lot more rain has fallen over the area than has fallen at the "official rain guage" at Bush Field. There have been numerous scattered summer storms dumping rain in various places from Columbia County to Augusta and across the river throughout Aiken, Barnwell, and Edgefield Counties. I know my yard in Aiken has had standing water on at least 2 occasions in the last 2 to 3 weeks in addition to the hit and miss showers moving around. Then when I watch the weather to see how much rain fell after a good rain they would say a trace to a .10th of an inch fell at Bush Field. Even at my job on the Gordon Hwy we have gotten a couple of good rains in the last couple of weeks and each time Bush Field recorded a trace of rain. I agree that it has been mostly hot and dry but those drought figures are misleading when they only go by the rainfall Bush Field collects. The NWS needs to put out several rain monitors in different areas to get an average for an area instead of depending on one station.

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