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Rain drenches north Georgia fires, Lake Lanier
Brings much-needed relief, but drought not over
 DSC5677 WEB

By the numbers

* 2.79 inches of rain that fell in Forsyth County on Tuesday and Wednesday, the only days of rain in November
* .16 inches of rain that fell in October
* 43 days without rain
* 5.42 inches below normal rainfall since Sept. 1
* .04 feet Lake Lanier rose in 24 hours
* 95 percent the Rough Ridge fire is contained

More than two inches of rain was dumped on Forsyth County this week, marking the first precipitation of the month and since Oct. 16.

The National Weather Service recorded 2.05 inches at its Peachtree City climate station on Tuesday, Nov. 29 and .74 on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

The month October saw only .16 inches over a total of two days.

“The rain definitely helped. We got four decent swaths of rainfall,” State Climatologist Bill Murphey said.

Some areas in the extreme northwest corners of Forsyth, where the drought and wildfire threat was the highest, received 3 or 4 inches.

Looking ahead, more rain is expected on Sunday night and all day, on and off, Monday, Murphey said.

A total of 5.7 inches has fallen in Forsyth since Sept. 1, less than the normal rate of 11.12 inches in that timeframe and the 17.93 inches recorded last year.

What had been incessantly dropping Lake Lanier water levels were quelled by the rain, too, with the most recent data from the National Weather Service showing pool at 1,060.87 feet, marking a .04-change over a 24-hour span that saw 1 inch of precipitation.

Winter full pool is 1,070 feet.

The low level is still a ways off from the historic low of 1,050.79 during the December 2007 drought.

Storms did bring much-needed respite to the ongoing drought and to firefighters combatting wildfires throughout north Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.

About 95 percent of the 27,890-acre Rough Ridge fire in north Georgia was contained as of Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

“There is still some potential for smoldering and creeping fire in dry material under the leaf layer,” a news release said. “Firefighters expect post-fire and weather-related hazards, primarily in the form of downed trees on roadways and trails.”

Rain helped quench raging wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which killed at least seven people and destroyed 700 buildings.

The line of heavy rainfall and thunderstorms also brought heavy winds and lightning to its path, killing at least five people in Alabama and Tennessee and injuring at least a dozen more throughout the Southeast.

Tornadoes within the storm crossed multiple states, with at least tree touching in or near Atlanta.

One was radar-confirmed near the Forsyth-Fulton county line, one near the Carroll-Haralson-Paulding county line and a third around the Cobb-Fulton county line.

Tornado warnings were issued on more than 50 counties, including Forsyth and much of metro Atlanta.

Forsyth County Schools briefly delayed dismissal amid the blaring warning sirens, sheltering students and faculty in hallways and safe areas and bringing anyone waiting in the car pickup line inside.

While the storms may have helped contain fires and stall dropping lake levels, the drought is far from over.

“Any little bit helps, and this will add on, but there’s still a long way to go,” Murphey said. “Remember this [drought] started a long time ago [in March]. It takes a long time to go into a drought and also takes a long time to go out of one.”