Federal government forecasters issued spring weather conditions Thursday, and the news for North Georgia, which remains under a severe drought, is mixed.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the risk of river flooding in this region is expected to be low this spring.
“[That’s] due to a mild winter with below normal precipitation and relatively dry soil conditions,” said Tom Graziano, director of NOAA’s Office of Water Prediction.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Drought Monitor explained those dry soil conditions are due to most of North Georgia still being in a drought. Pam Knox, an agricultural climatologist with the University of Georgia's crop and soil science department, said drought conditions usually diminish in the winter.
“That's because of [a] combination of lack of evaporation and dormant plants,” Knox said. “This year, it has not reduced as much as we'd really hoped. And that's because it's been so warm."
Knox said the warmer winter caused more water evaporation. Plants also bloomed earlier, and used more water than usual. She said that could be a warning sign.
“We’re ending the winter recharge period now, and it looks like we’re probably going to go back into warmer temperatures again, after this cold spell ends,” she said. “That means the plants are already growing, the evaporation levels are coming up, and unless we get more timely rain, we could go back into more severe drought again.”
Knox said it would take an inch of rain a week to keep things from getting worse. To break the drought, she said, would take a long period of above-normal rainfall.