Drought awareness ramped up in the Peach State, but should we be more concerned?
On the surface, the weather outside isn't frightening. After all, we're experiencing temps in the mid 80s going into the last October weekend of 2016 and about zero chances of rain. This seems like it will be one of the warmest Halloweens on record. Trick or treat participants might wish to consider swimsuits while on their hunt for candy.
That part about the forecast no rain has meteorologists, climatologists, environmentalists and water supply experts concerned. Here we go again with yet another exceptional drought. The is the number one problem that has been blanketing the Atlanta metro area and quite honestly, most of Georgia for many years.
I could be completely off-base here, but it seems that there isn't much concern out there about the drought at the moment. I must point out that there were measure put in place by the state Environmental Protection Division - so I'm not saying that anyone has been falling down on the job. Public awareness by the EPD about this exceptional drought was ramped up before Labor Day with a drought Level 1 response. This report was issued on September 9 when most of North Georgia was in a "severe" drought, but should the region have been more proactive in its approach with more strict measures? Indeed many will say that this more proactive idea is "Monday Morning Quarterbacking" and no one had the ability to see how early autumn was going to be with all of the models available. Even if all out outdoor watering bans were in place, would we be better off going deeper into fall?
Even though the state's "water gurus" say that conservation methods have been well under way, many are concerned as we remain rain-less. As of this writing in late October 2016, it seems that the state hasn't done as much as it should have in promoting drought awareness. To me, it's amazing how quickly we can go from having more than enough water to a point where we end up in drought conditions.
Droughts are nothing new to North Georgia over the past decade. We reached critical drought points in summer 2007 when communities finally placed bans and boasted awareness. Things got so bad, folks were praying for rain. Lake Lanier was half full with things popping out of there that many folks had not seen in years. We were told to limit watering, restrict showering, car washing and even toilet flushing. In South Georgia, crops dried up making life difficult for thousands. Desperate times called for such desperate measures, but couldn't that have been alleviated to some degree with pre-emptive conservation well before the drought hit? Georgia remained dry through 2008, well into late 2009 when we received monsoon-like conditions. Finally the prayer paid off with more than we bargained for - so yes, be careful what you pray for those days. Those gains were temporarily erased in 2011 with a drought that wasn't nearly as severe as 2007. If one recalls, 2007 was hot with triple-degree temps and 2011 contained one of the longest stretches of 90 degree and above days. Congrats to 2016 for breaking that record. I think it this past summer was far worse with the heat and humidity.
Perhaps officials don't wish to alarm the public with outdoor watering and burning bans, but shouldn't these rather strict out-all bans have been in place for the past six or seven weeks? It didn't take rocket scientists to realize that rain has not been in sight for September, October 2016 and most likely into November, right?