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Scattered rain doesn't bust drought
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ATLANTA -- Scattered showers moved through parts of Alabama, north Georgia and Tennessee on Monday, but it was far from busting the drought that's gripped the region for months.

The National Weather Service said there's a chance of showers and thunderstorms over north Georgia for the next five days, finally giving forecasters some good news to offer. The skies over metro Atlanta were gray most of the day, and the morning commute was slow as drivers dealt with slick conditions for what seemed like the first time in months.

But climatologists say it will take more than a few scattered storms to pull the region out of a record drought.

Atlanta is almost 17 inches below normal rainfall for the year, and state officials warn that Lake Lanier, the north Georgia reservoir that supplies more than 3 million people with water, could be depleted within three months.

Almost one-third of the Southeast is covered by an "exceptional" drought — the worst drought category. The Atlanta area, with a population of 5 million, is smack in the middle of the affected region, which includes most of Tennessee, Alabama and the northern half of Georgia, as well as parts of North and South Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia.

To cope with the epic drought, Georgia officials in September banned virtually all outdoor watering in the northern part of the state and have warned that more restrictions could be coming.

Gov. Sonny Perdue also declared a state of emergency in more than half of Georgia's counties on Saturday and asked President Bush to order that less water is released from Georgia's reservoirs downstream to Alabama and Florida.


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