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Friday, January 4, 2013 - 7:57am

Holiday Rains Helped But Drought Still Bad

State Climatologist Bill Murphey says the rain over Christmas and New Year’s helped ease drought conditions in northern Georgia. But he says central and southern Georgia didn’t see much benefit from the storms.

While extreme northwest and extreme northern Georgia saw 6 to 8 inches of rain, central and southern Georgia saw 2 inches or less during the two week holiday period. Murphey says Lake Lanier has risen 1.4 feet since Christmas. Groundwater and stream flow have improved in northern Georgia, but he says they remain at below normal levels in central and southern Georgia.

The rain did lessen the drought from exceptional to extreme around metro Atlanta. But nearly 65 percent of the state remains in severe, extreme or exceptional drought.

Murphey says the hardest hit area continues to be around Macon.

Another system is expected to come through the state next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Murphey expects temperatures to be cooler in 2013 than in 2012.

He says Atlanta had the warmest temperatures on record in 135 years in 2012. Columbus saw its highest mean temperature last year. And Macon had its highest average low temperature on record in 2012.

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