Things are starting to dry out a little after more than 24 hours of on-and-off rain in Middle Georgia.
By this afternoon, Macon had recorded four and a half inches of rain while the National Weather Service reports parts of Sumter, Macon, Dooly, Schely, Webster and Crisp counties received closer to six inches in the persistent showers and thunderstorms that began Wednesday morning.
Because so much of the region has been battling drought conditions the heavy rains did not bring major flooding, said Kent Frantz, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service.
“This has been very widespread and a lot of rain north of you so this is one of the reasons (the rivers) have gotten so high,” Frantz said.
Across the midstate, water puddled on roads causing some closures until the water drained. Cones were out on Broadway in Macon and along the parkway in Perry in front of the old Northrop plant.
The Ocmulgee River in Macon was forecast to crest early today at about a foot over flood stage but no major flooding was expected. The National Weather Service has expected the water would begin to recede early tomorrow.
The Ocmulgee Heritage Trail in downtown Macon will be closed as long as the river is above flood stage. Employees put up cones at the Spring Street entrance this afternoon as the Ocmulgee River began to flood.
Following close to four inches of rain, Lake Sinclair opened three flood gates Thursday in Milledgeville which could mean some flooding downstream on the Oconee River, Frantz said.
Although tributaries poured into the Flint River after a half a foot of rain fell, the drought gave the region some leeway to absorb that water without triggering major floods.
Frantz recalls a minor flood on the Ocmulgee this spring, but the last time the Ocmulgee rose above 19 feet was on Sept. 14, 2004 when Hurricane Ivan brushed through the midstate and the river crested at 19.88 feet.
A combination of high pressure moving off the Atlantic coast and an approaching upper level trough funneled moisture from the Gulf of Mexico up through Middle Georgia.
“That allowed the Gulf moisture to really be pumped up here,” Frantz said. “It finally has worked out because we had so many opportunities here that we missed out on.” Macon has recored 193-percent of normal rainfall in December. The year ending Dec. 11th has seen 114-percent of yearly rainfall, Frantz said. The approaching frontal system also brought strong winds to Georgia with gusts of 60 miles per hour recorded in western parts of the state. The Macon County Sheriff’s Office reported a roof was ripped off a barn and some lines came down Thursday morning with the storms. Trees were also down near the Putnam/Morgan county line on U.S. 441 and minor damage was reported two miles north of Eastman in Dodge County. Flint Energies reported 38 outage locations as strong winds snapped power poles in their service area.