Augusta in severe drought

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Worsening drought conditions are spreading south into the metro Augusta area, according to Georgia State Climatologist David Stooksbury.

"Severe drought now exists west and north of a line crossing Lowndes, Cook, Tift, Turner, Crisp, Dooly, Houston, Bibb, Jones, Baldwin, Hancock, Glascock, Warren, McDuffie and Richmond counties," David Stooksbury said today in his semi-monthly drought update report.

Augusta-Richmond County's drought had been categorized as "moderate" until today, when it was upgraded - along with other Georgia cities - to the "severe" category that occurs once in about 20 years.

The state's five-level drought classifications - mild, moderate, severe, extreme and exceptional - are determined by rainfall, stream flows, temperature and soil moisture.

Much of north-central and northeast Georgia is in extreme drought, which occurs once in 50 years, Dr. Stooksbury said.

The region in extreme drought is north and east of a line crossing Lincoln, Wilkes, Taliaferro, Greene, Morgan, Walton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Dawson, Gilmer and Fannin counties. It includes Athens, Blairsville, Clayton, Cumming, Gainesville and Madison.

Soil moisture levels are extremely low in much of the state. Farm ponds, especially those not fed by springs, are showing the lack of rain. Many ponds didn’t receive adequate recharge during the winter and entered the summer already low.

Through October, Georgia’s best chance for widespread drought relief will be tropical disturbances. The tropics usually don’t become active until late summer.

More drought information can be found at www.georgiadrought.org.

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