Published on 05/05/09

Lanier and Hartwell basins improve to mild drought

By David Stooksbury
University of Georgia

Thanks to generous rains, Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell basins have improved to mild drought. The basins were previously in moderate drought.

The mild drought classification is based on the still low levels of the lakes. The remainder of the state, however, is drought-free.

Soil moisture conditions are above normal for the entire state except the north-central and northeast mountain counties. Soil moisture in these regions is near normal for early May. These counties include the drainage basins for Lanier and Hartwell.

Stream flows are near normal for early May except for northwest Georgia, where stream flows are well above normal.

May is typically one of the drier months in Georgia. Additionally, with high temperatures routinely in the 80s and plant water use very high, moisture loss is accelerated. We normally expect the soils to start to dry out this month.

As we progress through the summer into the middle of fall, moisture loss from the soil - due to evaporation and plant use - is normally greater than rainfall. With normal weather over the next several months, Georgians can expect to see a drying of the soils. However, this is normal and does not mean that Georgia is heading back into a drought.

Additional weather and climate information can be found at and

Agricultural climatology information can be found at

Coastal climate information can be found at

Daily rainfall data is at

U.S. Geological Survey data is at Water conservation information is available at

David Emory Stooksbury is associate professor of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at University of Georgia's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.