Authorities say Lake Lanier has risen higher than 1,058 feet above sea level for the first time since Nov. 23. The lake northeast of Atlanta has been steadily rising since Dec. 19, when it had fallen to its lowest level since Jan. 16, 2009. At that time, the region was in a fierce two-year drought.
Some Georgia farmers are playing a game of chicken with the calendar as they wait for rain. Forage crops like hay should have been planted by mid-November, but UGA extension professor Dennis Hancock says much of the seed is still in the bag.
Authorities say Lake Lanier is now at its lowest level since March 2009 after dropping two feet in two weeks. Officials say the lake is at 1,058 feet above sea level, or 13 feet below what is considered full for this time of year.
Federal officials say they're lowering Lake Lanier's water level and increasing the flow of water downstream to ease drought conditions in parts of Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Officials expect Lanier to drop six inches each week at the current release rate.
The Army Corps of Engineers says it will release more water from Lake Lanier and West Point Lake because of drought conditions in Georgia, eastern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Weather forecasts aren't predicting rain in the region over the next two weeks, and more water is needed at Lake Seminole and Walter F. George.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has extended its disaster loan program to six more Georgia counties affected by drought. The loans target farm-related and other entities not covered by aid from the Department of Agriculture.