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Saturday May 28th, 2016 4:09AM

Much of north Ga. now 'drought-free'

By Ken Stanford Reporter
The northern tier of counties across Georgia - including Hall, Habersham, and most of the others in the northeast corner of the state - are now considered drought-free.

That's according to the weekly update from the U.S. Drought Monitor, which was released Thursday morning. The report is based on data collected Tuesday.

It shows the drought-free zone is primarily along and north of a line from the Rome and Dalton areas to Canton, Cummng, Gainesville and Toccoa. Included are all or parts of about 25 counties.

This is the first time in several months that all of these counties have been considered by the drought monitor to be drought-free and comes following a wet January when several inches of rain were reported in most places. Gainesville, for instance, picked up 6.83 inches, according to readings at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport. More was falling Thursday morning with some forecasters saying the Gainesville area could get another "one to two" inches before the showers end later in the day or Friday. And, there's a good chance rain will return on Monday.

The rest of the state, including most of metro Atlanta, is still considered to be in a drought, to one degree or another.

The hardest hit area is a 20-county region right in the middle of the state, which extends northeastward toward Augusta. Those counties are considered "exceptionally" dry - the most severe category used by the drought monitor. Drought conditions are considered "extreme" in about 65 counties, circling middle Georgia from Savannah and Brunswick northward to Augusta, westward to LaGrange and Columbus, and southward to Thomasville and Valdosta.
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