Rain barely makes a dent - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Rain barely makes a dent

June 27, 2006

Albany -- Parts of south Georgia finally got some rain this week, but a severe lack of rain over the last few months still left water levels at some lakes and rivers lower than normal. That could be dangerous for folks planning to hit the water this holiday weekend.      

The Flint River in Albany is two and a half feet below normal. "Our deficit in rainfall has had a tremendous impact on the Flint," says DNR ranger Danny Bishop.  Bishop says at some points, the river is barely over a foot deep.  "Places that were underwater back in April and May are above water now."

At Lakes Chehaw and Blackshear, the water levels aren't quite as low, but they are down from Memorial Day weekend.  "It looks all calm and peaceful, but there can be dangers just under the water you might not be aware of."

With lower water levels, come more dangers for boaters and water-goers.  "Sandbars and stumps that were underwater when you were out here on Memorial Day, may be just barely underwater now," Bishop says.

So navigate the shallow waters slowly and cautiously, especially if you're pulling a skier.  "You can have people hit the obstacles with their motors and cause significant danger. Or you can people on skis, knee boards or inner tubes that hit obstacles and injure themselves."

Before swimming or diving, check the depth of the water with either a depth finder or a just a paddle or long stick to make sure it's as deep as you think.  "Never dive in head first. Always go in feet first the first time."

Remember the lake or river you knew just a month ago, could be a lot different now because of the lack of rain. So be careful as you enjoy the holiday on the water.  

Hydrologist Woody Hicks says the Muckalee and Kinchafoonee Creeks were near record lows before this week's rain. But he says it will take more than afternoon showers to make up for the growing rain deficit across southwest Georgia.

Jack Wingate says that lake Seminole is 14 inches below normal level, but it is slowly rising.

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