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*What is a drought? *
It"s a period of insufficient rainfall for normal plant growth, which begins
when soil moisture is so diminished that vegetation roots cannot absorb
enough water to replace that lost by water vapors from parts of a plant.

*Article: Drought conditions expand into west, south Georgia*
Sept. 24, 2010
By David E. Stooksbury
University of Georgia

Mild to moderate drought conditions have expanded over the past month to
include much of west and south Georgia. With temperatures remaining above
normal and rainfall below normal, soils continue to dry across the entire
state.

Daytime high temperatures through the middle of September have generally
been in the 90s across the piedmont and coastal plain. Rainfall for the past
month has been between 50 percent and 70 percent of normal for most of the
state. The exceptions are northeast Georgia and the lower Savannah River
valley, where rainfall has been slightly above normal. Over the past two
weeks, rainfall has been less than half of normal across the entire state.

Mild to moderate drought conditions exist in counties south and west of
Haralson, Paulding, Douglas, Carroll, Harris, Troup, Muscogee,
Chattahoochee, Marion, Schley, Sumter, Crisp, Wilcox, Telfair, Jeff Davis,
Appling, Wayne and McIntosh counties, inclusive.

Mild drought conditions also exist in Lincoln, Wilkes and Elbert counties.
The remainder of the state is classified as abnormally dry.

Currently, lack of soil moisture is the major drought impact. Across the
southern half of the coastal plain, soil moisture is running at the fifth
percentile. That means that 95 out of 100 years we would expect the soils to
be wetter than they currently are in this region.

*Dry soil, mixed blessing*

The soil dryness has been a mixed blessing for farmers. For crops that are
mature, this has made harvesting easier. The exception is peanuts. Producers
are irrigating fields so that peanuts can be dug, or harvested from the
ground. Many crops have not reached maturity and still need some moisture.

Streams are dropping across the state. In southwest Georgia, stream flows
are near the 10th percentile. At that percentile we expect more water in the
streams 90 out of 100 years. In south-central Georgia, the Little River near
Adel and the Withlacoochee River near Quitman are at record low flows for
the middle of September.

Across northwest Georgia, stream flows are also near the 10th percentile.
Conditions across northeast Georgia are marginally better with stream flows
generally around the 20th percentile, which means the streams would have
more water flow 80 out of 100 years.

*Wildfire risk*

As the dryness worsens over the next few weeks, wildfire danger will
increase. Currently, wildfire danger across the state is rated from high to
extreme. Anyone involved in outside activities needs to be very cautious.
Because of the dryness, any fire, regardless of how small, can quickly get
out of control. Contact the Georgia Forestry Commission for specific details
concerning wildfire risk and outdoor burn permits and requirements.

Dryness across the state is expected to increase over the next several weeks
unless Georgia receives beneficial rains from one or more tropical
disturbances, such as a tropical storm or hurricane.

Through the winter, the dryness may increase. The ocean-atmosphere system
has switched to a La Niņa pattern. The La Niņa pattern is associated with
dry, warm winters across much of the Southeast. This means that we may have
minimal recharge of the hydrologic system this winter. This increases the
probability of widespread and significant drought for next year. It is too
early to tell exactly how the La Niņa pattern will impact Georgia, but we
need to be aware of the possible short-term tropical impacts and the
long-term drought impacts.

Up-to-date information on dry conditions across Georgia can be found at
www.georgiadrought.org. Updated weather conditions can be found at
www.georgiaweather.net

(David Stooksbury is the state climatologist, a professor of engineering and
graduate coordinator for atmospheric sciences in the University of Georgia
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)



-- 
Dr. Teri Hamlin
North Region Agriculture Education
Georgia Department of Education
204C Four Towers University of Georgia
Athens, Ga 30602
706-552-4461 / 706-540-0032
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