Quenching the Southeast Drought

By Anthony Sagliani, Meteorologist
December 14, 2012; 4:56 AM ET
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Drought began developing over the central part of Georgia during the late summer and early fall months of 2010.

The drought has persisted since then, and has become severe enough to get a rating of "exceptional," the US Drought Monitor's worst possible rating of drought.

The drought has been severe enough to impact major areas of peanut crops. It has killed mature trees, and it has even forced farmers to ship in water for their livestock to offset dropping farm pond levels.

This image, courtesy of the the US Drought Monitor, shows the area of extreme to exceptional drought across central Georgia.

A series of slow-moving storm systems recently affected areas from Mississippi and Alabama eastward to Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas.

These storm systems produced large swaths of heavy rain, especially to the west and to the east of the exceptional drought areas.

Rainfall across most of Mississippi, Alabama and northern Georgia was between 0.5-2.0 inches.

Over the central Panhandle of Florida and into southern Georgia, rainfall also averaged 0.5-2.0 inches.

The heaviest rain fell over the peninsula of Florida. Gainesville saw nearly 4.50 inches. There was 1.50 inches in Jacksonville and about 1.20 inches at Daytona Beach.

Some places near Jupiter Beach even saw tremendous flash flooding as 12-16 inches of rain fell in a very short period of time.

A hole in precipitation amounts is visible near central Georgia on this 72-hour precipitation total map courtesy of the University of Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, rainfall over parched areas of central Georgia was much lighter.

Macon, Ga., a city located smack in the heart of the drought, only saw 0.28 inches.

Similar amounts around Macon and much of central Georgia did little to help.

Most areas that are starved for precipitation require tremendous rainfall to officially put an end to the drought. In the Macon area and westward toward Columbia, 12-15 inches are needed.

A more stormy pattern is developing across the Southeast, but it will likely take months of above-average rainfall to quench the thirst of creeks, streams, rivers and crops, all suffering from one of the worst droughts in the last 100 years.

Keep checking back with AccuWeather.com for the all the latest weather information.

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