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Rains replenish park waters
After almost two years of being dried up and closed, the canoe trails at Blythe Island Regional Park are wet again and are beginning to attract boaters.

Heavy rainfall has refilled the lakes, which connect to the canals, at the county park off Ga. 303 on Blythe Island.

An extended drought period caused the lakes to dry up and become unsafe for canoers, kayakers and other boaters, resulting in the closure of the waterways in July 2011.

"The water is up and the fish are biting," said Jeffrey Riggins, crew leader at the park.

Water is not the only thing that's back. The park also is starting to see an increase in visitation.

"For not being a holiday, we've had a lot of activity," Riggins said. "The water is up, people are fishing and bringing their own boats."

The lakes are rising but have yet to hit their peak, and whether they will remains to be seen.

State Climatologist Bill Murphey says the Golden Isles has exceeded the normal amount of rainfall for this time of year but is still lagging at 1.12 inches below normal since January.

"That's good news, but it's a slight deficit," Murphey said from his office in Athens.

Heavy rainfall last weekend brought water levels up and set a new record for daily maximum rainfall. About 2.4 inches of precipitation fell on Sunday, beating the record of 1.9 inches set in 2005, Murphey said.

The past three weeks have been the second wettest on record with about 4.9 inches of precipitation - 3.2 inches more than normal.

Looking at the last month, Glynn County has had the eighth wettest time on record with 5.12 inches of rain. That's 2.56 inches above normal.

Murphey expects the precipitation to relieve lingering drought conditions on the coast.

"There's still a little bit of a dryness down there in the longterm ... but not near as much as it was," Murphey said.

Glynn, McIntosh and Camden counties are still considered to be abnormally dry, which is the least severe category of drought. Some small coastal sections of the counties fall into the moderate drought category, which is the second least severe, according to the most recent Drought Monitor, which is published each Thursday.

About 96 percent of Georgia is no longer considered to be in a drought.

"Those counties, Glynn and McIntosh, didn't really get the heavier amounts of rainfall."

He said Camden County got a real soaking with 5 to 6 to 8 inches of rainfall.

The precipitation has brought cooler temperatures with it. Monday's high temperature was 72 which is well below the normal of 80.

The area is in a neutral meteorological pattern - meaning no El Nino or La Nina is being experienced - and can see swings in temperature.

"We still aren't quite done with the cool temperatures yet," Murphey said. "Spring has not quite sprung, but it's trying to."

Rainfall is expected to return to the Golden Isles this weekend with a 20 percent to 30 percent chance on Saturday.

* Reporter Nikki Wiley writes about government, business and other local topics. Contact her at, on Facebook or at 265-8320, ext. 321.

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