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GA storms end 5-year drought

Baseball-sized hail, four to six inches of rain and a possible tornado in the last two days in Georgia have ended drought conditions.

BY DANIEL YEE | ATLANTA | May 8, 2003


"It seems like in Georgia it's either feast or famine."

—Lisa Ray


Georgia has seen baseball-sized hail, four to six inches of rain and a possible tornado in the last two days. This has ended drought conditions going back five years and have caused flooding and property damage in parts of the state.

"There have been drought conditions since 1998 ? but that's all gone now," said Phil Grigsby, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office in Peachtree City, Ga.

Luckily no one has been injured in the relentless storms that began Tuesday and likely will continue through Thursday. As a result, Georgia Emergency Management Agency officials said Wednesday they are watching streams and river levels for flooding. No one yet has requested state assistance, said Lisa Ray, agency spokeswoman.

"It seems like in Georgia it's either feast or famine," Ray said. "The last couple of years we've had a severe drought. All of this rain is taking care of soil moisture levels and lake and stream levels."

Officials are hoping that the sudden appearance of heavy rain in the state will not lead to flooding as bad as in 1994, when 55 counties were declared presidential disaster areas along the Flint River basin near Albany, Ga., Ray said.

Normally the Atlanta area has 19.58 inches of rain from January until this time of May at the Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport and less than an inch of rain in the first week of May, Grisley said. So far, the airport has recorded 20.47 inches of rain, he said.

The heavy rainfall resulted in an outpouring of reports to the weather service office.

Baseball-size hail was reported near Newnan, Ga., southwest of Atlanta. An off-duty state police trooper reported a possible tornado that destroyed a shed and several trees in Roosterville, Ga., Grisley said.

A mobile home park flooded out in Tyrone, Ga., just south of Atlanta.

Numerous roads in the areas surrounding Atlanta were flooded out, some by as much as six to eight inches of water.

High wind also was a problem in the area. Trees that fell down on homes in Coweta county southwest of Atlanta initially had trapped some residents but rescue workers were able to free them, Ray said.

Several barns were destroyed and a roof was torn off a house in Carrollton, Ga., southwest of Atlanta, Grisley added.


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