Georgia is out of the most severe part of the drought and what is left of the drought is mostly in the northernmost part of the state.
All of that is thanks to an unusually rainy January.
On the last day of January, none of the state was under exceptional drought conditions, and only 3.57 percent of the state was under extreme drought. At the end of December, 26.52 percent of the state was under exceptional drought, and 20.88 percent was under extreme drought. A month ago, more than 91 percent of the state was under some level of drought. At the end of January, that was down to 42.36 percent.
Even though the drought has eased across the state, metro Atlanta remains under a significant drought. Generally, areas north of I-20 generally are under severe drought conditions, and areas to the south have moderate drought conditions.
Those conditions had persisted for months, dropping area lake levels far below normal and causing wildfire conditions. Monthly rainfall totals make it clear why Georgia’s drought retreated so much in one month. Atlanta received 8.18 inches of rain, almost double the monthly average of 4.2 inches.
It was the first month since February 2016 that Atlanta received above-average rain, and it was the wettest month since December 2015. It was the wettest January since 1996. January’s rain in Atlanta also was more than the city received in October, November and December combined. The rainfall was even heavier south of Atlanta. Macon received 11.26 inches of rain, and Columbus got 11.48 inches.
Georgia’s drought began to grow last spring and peaked in late fall following one of the driest months in the past 20 years. A year ago only about 13 percent of the state was under any level of drought, and it was considered only abnormally dry.