Southeastern Drought May Last Longer Than Expected

Last week, Georgia announced a Level 4 Drought and issued a ban on all outdoor watering because of continued dry conditions.  Now weather forecasters are saying the drought may continue to worsen for several more months.

Just today, meteorologists at the Climate Prediction Center have announced they're expecting a mild winter with drier than normal conditions across the southeast.  It's disappointing news for many who have been hoping for more rain.

In Columbus, the fountains for which the city is famous are no longer running--casualties of Georgia's Level 4 ban. Although much of the water in most of the fountains is re-used, water officials say a portion of the water evaporates and must be replaced each day.

"That's really one of the shames of all of this, is that we have to give up those types of things, but fountains, ornamental water use is specifically listed in the rules as being prohibited," says Jim Patterson, Vice President of Customer and Information Systems for Columbus Water Works.

And it may be several months before this water is seen flowing again, according to the Climate Prediction Center. It predicts the drought will last longer than expected, causing lakes and rivers to continue to shrink. But meteorologists warn this prediction is only one of many models.

Although October is historically a dry month, some believe at least some relief may be on the way in November and December.

"The US Drought Monitor, they're responsible for issuing drought forecasts for all over the country, and they are expecting improvements in the drought across Alabama and Georgia," explained WTVM Meteorologist Derek Kinkade.

But if the drought doesn't improve, water officials say you can expect even stricter water restrictions in the future.

"The long-term effects of this are really going to be more serious, if it does continue to last over several months or more. I think those long-term effects will be greater than the immediate effects that we're beginning to experience right now," Patterson predicted.