GAINESVILLE — Lake Lanier looks full with summer around the bend and a forecast that’s likely to be drier than last year’s.
“The lake has never looked more beautiful than it does right now,” said Val Perry, president of the Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association.
Lanier stood at 1,071.56 feet above sea level Thursday. Summer full pool, which begins May 1, is 1,071.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Lanier, also “did a pretty good job” at managing levels, Perry said.
“We are very happy with lake levels going into this summer,” said Joanna Cloud, the lake association’s executive director.
“Good rain and no drought crisis on the ACF system is a blessing. Going forward into this summer, we hope to see everyone keep water and boating safety as a high priority.”
The ACF is the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin, which straddles Georgia, Alabama and Florida and includes Lake Lanier at the top end.
The popular reservoir was brimming over last year, with levels frequently cresting 1,073 feet, thanks in large part to bountiful rainfall in the area — 79 inches for the year, one of the highest on record for the area.
And while that meant plenty of water in the lake, there never seemed enough sunny days to take advantage of it. That may change this year.
According to the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, the Forsyth area has gotten nearly 16 inches of rain this year so far, or about 3 inches less than the average.
This week’s storm system, which caused havoc in other parts of the Southeast, including Georgia, caused few problems for the area, except for some high winds and downed trees.
Between Sunday and Wednesday, the area got less than a quarter-inch of rain, according to the weather service.
Looking ahead, this summer’s weather pattern could be drier than normal in spots or wetter than normal.
Much depends on where coastal high-pressure systems linger, state climatologist Bill Murphey said.
“It could either give us some afternoon and evening thunderstorms ... or it could keep us a little bit drier,” Murphey said. “We might not get as much rain. It might be hotter and drier.”
An El Niño weather ocean atmosphere pattern, which can produce cooler and wetter conditions in the winter, could develop later in the year.
If that happens, forecasts show below-normal tropical activity in the Atlantic Ocean, Murphey said.
“But it doesn’t take but one major hurricane to cause a major impact,” he said.