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Rain, lower temps help stabilize lake
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Forsyth County News
Area weather by the numbers


• 74.5 degrees Fahrenheit: Average temperature for June, based on 108 years of data:

• 77.4 degrees Fahrenheit: Average temperature for July, based on 108 years of data

• 1,064.62: level of Lake Lanier

• June 2009 was tied for 45th coolest in a recorded 108-year period of Junes

• July 2009 was ninth coolest in a 108-year period of Julys

At last, rain has returned to summer, bringing with it slightly lower and more bearable temperatures.

Even days where there only are a few sprinkles of rain seem to be above average, compared to the last two summers when Northeast Georgia could go weeks without one drop.

But in reality, the area’s rainfall has just returned to normal, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Jessica Ufieux.

Rainfall for June and July hovered just below 30-year averages for the area, and temperatures for July were 2 degrees below the 30-year average, Ufieux said.

State climatologist David Stooksbury said June and July ranked as the 26th coolest over a 108-year period. Though some years are tied in the rankings, July ranked as the ninth coolest for that period of record.

Although management is a major factor in maintaining water levels in Lake Lanier, the lower temperatures and steady rainfall have helped keep its level constant this summer, Stooksbury said.

But the lower temperatures and rainfall have had little effect on power bills for Georgia Power customers, according to spokeswoman Carol Boatright.

Georgia Power keeps records on summer temperatures, and Boatright said those records indicate that July was the third coolest July in 15 years. June, on the other hand, was the hottest on record in 15 years.

"Because we’ve got our customers on (different billing) cycles, most of our customers will have a couple of weeks of June and a couple of weeks of July on their bills, so it’s pretty much going to even out," Boatright said.

Jackson EMC customers have been using less electricity. Jackson EMC spokeswoman Bonnie Jones said the electric membership corporation is selling 2 percent less electricity than it was a year ago.

While much of the change in electricity use can be attributed to the economy -- foreclosed homes, closed businesses and fewer operating hours at open businesses -- the lower temperatures also have contributed, Jones said.

Usually in the hot summer months, the utility often has to run load management in the afternoons to relieve the company’s network from the amount of electricity its customers are using, Jones said.

"When we run load management, it is hot," she said.

But this year, Jones said Jackson EMC has run load management on just a handful of days.

August rainfall, so far, totals 1 inch, Ufieux said. But with a lot of rain this past week, that amount likely will increase before month's end.

Average rainfall for August is 3.97 inches, based on rainfall totals measured from 1971 to 2000, Ufieux said.

Any remnants of Hurricane Bill probably won’t touch the United States, much less Northeast Georgia.

There will be little chance of other tropical activity throughout the fall, Stooksbury said. Currently, the area is in an El Niño climate pattern, which means the early and midfall will be drier than normal.

"Much of our early and midfall rainfall comes from tropical activity," Stooksbury said. "If tropical activity is suppressed, it increases the probability of early and middle fall being drier than normal."

But don’t expect the drought to return. A probabilistic forecast shows the area should receive near normal to above-normal rainfall throughout the winter, which bodes well for Lanier next year, Stooksbury said.

"Right now, I would say there is a very good probability that Lanier will be at full pool come spring," Stooksbury said.