Georgia, along with the rest of the southeast, is experiencing a rapidly developing drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

The monitor said the percentage of Georgia experiencing an "extreme drought" increased from nearly 4.5% to 11.8% and the area experiencing a "severe drought" increased from 28.35% to 52.98% during the period from Oct. 1 to Oct. 8. The U.S. Drought Monitor is a partnership between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Across the southeast, temperatures were generally about nine to 12 degrees above normal as October began, according to the monitor.

"The flash drought continued to rapidly impact the region with both above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation," drought monitor officials said in a report this past week. "Florida and Alabama had their third warmest September on record, South Carolina their fourth and Georgia their fifth. Alabama, Georgia and Florida all had their driest September on record.

"From areas in Alabama, Georgia, north Florida and the Carolinas, a widespread full category degradation again took place this week with even more widespread severe and extreme drought conditions being depicted from a week ago."

The extreme drought area now covers the area around Lake Lanier, dipping south to include Buford and Sugar Hill in northern Gwinnett County, as well as south and east metro counties including Clayton, Henry, Butts and parts of Rockdale and Newton counties. The remaining parts of Gwinnett, Rockdale and Newton counties are in the "severe drought" area.

Part of eastern Dougherty County, where Albany is located, is also experiencing a severe drought while the rest of it is undergoing a moderate drought.

Meanwhile, high temperatures and dry weather have taken their toll on Lake Lanier, which dropped from 1,067.66 feet on Oct. 1 to 1,067.15 feet on Thursday, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In all, the lake's midnight pool levels have dropped nearly three feet since Aug. 24, which was the last time lake levels increased from the preceding day.

Lake Lanier has been below its full pool level of 1,070 feet since Aug. 26, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers records.

"A significant rain event moved through the southern Midwest and into the South (during the week of Sept. 30), not only putting a stop to further drought development but also allowing for widespread improvements," U.S. Drought Monitor officials said. "Unfortunately, these rains did not get into the Southeast, where another hot and dry week continues to raise havoc on the region, especially to those involved in agriculture."

There may be some relief coming, however. FOX 5 Atlanta is reporting there is a 60% chance of rain on Sunday and another 60% chance of rain on Tuesday. The news station is also forecasting high temperatures to be in the 70's through the end of the week.

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