Georgia drought continues to worsen

The drought is creating wildfire problems, record low stream flows and low reservoir and groundwater levels.

Wildfire danger across the state is rated high to extreme, according to the Georgia Forestry Commission. The drought, coupled with a killing freeze, very low relative humidity and freshly fallen leaves, has made Georgia very susceptible to wildfires.

Most wildfires are caused by careless burning of debris such as leaves and household garbage. Another cause is farm machine use, such as mowing. Anyone using Georgia's outdoors needs to be mindful of fire hazards from sources such as cigarettes, motorized vehicles, chain saws and other powered tools, and spark-producing activities.

Across Georgia, rain was minimal the first week of November, while soil moisture loss has been around one-half inch. Soil moisture is reported to be short to very short in 87 percent of the state's soils, according to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service. This follows an extremely dry three months.

Analysis from the National Climatic Data Center shows that October 2001 was Georgia's 15th driest October in 107 years.

August-through-October 2001 was the state's 11th driest August-through-October on record.

Record low stream flows are reported on the middle and lower Flint River, the lower Oconee, the upper Altamaha and Broad River. Streams south of the mountains are near record low flows.

Groundwater levels remain low across south Georgia. Several locations are at or near record low levels.

Water conservation measures are desirable.

The long-lead outlook for winter is not clear. Current National Weather Service predictions are for equal chances of below-normal, near-normal and above-normal winter precipitation.

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