State Climatologist says that 2011 will be dry - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

State Climatologist says that 2011 will be dry

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – Hot and dry. Those are the favorite words for weather forecasters these days. It has everyone seeking shelter in a cool place, even the cattle. While drought is never far away in South Georgia.

Rad Yager, the UGA Extension Agent for Dougherty County said, "it seems like were always a week away from a drought."

It actually is dry, and parts of South Georgia actually are in a drought.  Doug Wilson, the Executive Director of the Georgia Water Planning and Policy Center said, "we're showing abnormally dry to slight drought in the western - very western - counties in the southern portion of the state."

And rain gauges may remain just as empty next year. State climatologist David Stooksbury predicts 2011 will be drier than normal due to the La Nina weather pattern.

That means more dry lawns, more low river levels, more center pivots running in overdrive, and more tough times for livestock producers.

"He (the cattle producer) may quickly reduce the size of his cattle herd."

Luckily, South Georgia's two biggest crops - peanuts and cotton - are resilient and can stand a little dry weather as long as the plants and the fields that they're in are kept in good shape.

"They can sit there and wait for a period of time on the rain," said Yager of the cotton and peanut crops.

If there is good news in this forecast it's that people who were caught by surprise during the last significant drought in 2007 - when Lake Lanier looked more like a pond - should be more ready this time.

Doug Wilson said, "the consciousness of the Georgia public is way up."

As for the farmers, they're already planning for next year's planting. It has less to do with the seasonal forecast and more to do with something else.

"That's because they follow strict rotation for the health of our soils and the health of our crops," said Yager.

And even if the number of showers is smaller, they'll be hoping that the winds will bring some of those showers to their fields.

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