Recent rains have been good for Lake Lanier.
The lake, which hasn’t come close to full pool since a drought caused levels to drop drastically in 2016, rose two and a half feet in a week, according to figures maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In all, the lake has risen more than three feet since the beginning of February.
The area has seen about 4.65 inches of rainfall since the beginning of the month, which is about 2.59 inches over normal, National Weather Service forecaster Kyle Thiem said.
The lake’s gains could continue for a few more days with more rain in the forecast, raising the possibility of Lake Lanier reaching full pool for the first time in nearly two years.
“We don’t have a really strong system coming through to push it out of the area, so it looks like there’s at least a slight chance of rain in the Lake Lanier area for the next week,” Thiem said.
Lanier’s midnight pool level on Monday was 1,069.54 feet, just under a foot and a half below the lake’s full pool level of 1,071 feet. By comparison, the pool level was 1,067.4 feet on Feb. 5.
As sudden increases at Lake Lanier go, this is still smaller than the jump seen in late December 2015, when the level rose more than five feet in nine days. Lake Lanier is also designed to hold more water than the level that is considered full pool.
The gains of the last week have not been an isolated one-week occurrence though.
The lake has been mostly rising since late January. The increases were incremental, only going up a tenth-of-an-inch for a few days, but it jumped 0.12 feet Jan. 28, and then increased another 0.12 feet over the next four days.
The only drop since Jan. 18 occurred Feb. 2, which the lake level went down by two-hundredths of a foot. It went up the next day, but the big jumps in the levels began Feb. 4, when the lake rose by nearly half a foot.
Although the lake’s rise slowed for a couple of days, it jumped again last Wednesday, this time by more than six-tenths of a foot. It then rose by nearly a quarter of a foot the next day, reaching 1,067.96 feet.
The next big jumps occurred Sunday, when the lake rose by more than seven-tenths of a foot, and Monday, when the level went up nearly half a foot.
Despite the gains, the U.S. Drought Monitor had northern and western Gwinnett listed as being in a moderate drought as of its most recent update on Feb. 8. The central, southern and eastern parts of the county was listed as being “abnormally dry.”
“Reductions of Abnormal Dryness (D0) and Moderate, Severe, and Extreme Drought (D1, D2, and D3, respectively) were widespread, especially in locales where rain topped 2 inches during the preceding 7 days and two-week rainfall was in excess of 3 inches,” Drought Monitor officials wrote in last week’s assessment of conditions in the southeast.
“Despite the recent wetness, 90-day precipitation remained a meager 50 percent of normal (or less) in the core D1 and D2 areas, with deficits topping 8 inches in the southern Appalachians and along the northeastern Gulf Coast.”
Monday’s lake level is far cry from where the lake was Dec. 31, 2016, when it dropped to 1,060.22 feet — its lowest point during the drought that year and early 2017.
Lake Lanier has not been at or above full pool since Feb. 29, 2016.