Heavy summer rain: It's a good thing - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Heavy summer rain: It's a good thing

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We usually count on our fall and winter rains to replenish lake levels and erase summer drought. Currently, though, our lakes are over full levels and there isn't a drought anywhere in the state.

So what could that mean for the next few months FOX 5 Storm Team meteorologist Joanne Feldman spoke with a scientist at Georgia Tech to get some answers.

The weather pendulum has swung from a historic drought to unimaginable floods and back.  Now, Georgia is coming off of one of the wettest summers in recent memory.  

"Climatologically, it's unusual in that we had so many days with rain and we had a lot of rain totaling up," said James St. John, a Georgia Tech research scientist.

St. John says while the drought has been erased and lake levels look good, September's break in the excessive summer rains came at a very good time.  

"We've had the opportunity for the soil to dry out a little bit," he said.  "So when we get a rain like we did over the last weekend, the ground can absorb some of that."

Instead of immediately running off and causing flooding, the rain has somewhere to go.  But the soil's capacity to hold more moisture is affected by more than just how much rain we've seen lately.  

"Even if you don't get a lot of rain, if it's cloudy and cool, the water is not going to evaporate as much," explained St. John.

St. John also said if there are leaves on the trees, they can keep 30 percent of the rain from hitting the ground.  That means once the leaves have fallen, a heavy rain event can become a flooding rain event instead.

Something else to consider: We're right in the middle of Atlantic hurricane season.

"I think we'd be in trouble right now if, for example, a tropical storm came through Georgia and dumped a lot more rain on us," St. John said, adding that the ground would be saturated, the lakes are full and there's nowhere else for the water to go.  

His best-case scenario for the next few months?  St. John says it would be nice if we got average precipitation through the fall, but no matter what the weather pattern, it will affect some people well and others not so well.  

The bottom line: Georgia seems to be more at risk of slipping into flood conditions rather than drought during this fall season.

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