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Posted: February 27, 2013 9:05 p.m.

Rain causes flooding, could end drought

Some slight flooding occurred in Newton County Wednesday as the recent plentiful rainfall has raised the Yellow River and other creeks up to their banks.

A portion of Sockwell Road, which runs between Cook and Mount Tabor roads, and Sewell Road, near its intersection with Hodges Circle close to the Morgan County border, both flooded because they’re among the lowest-lying areas in the county, said Jody Nolan, deputy director of Newton County’s Emergency Management Agency. Sockwell Road is near the Yellow River, while Sewell Road crosses over the Little River.

The county has received 7.69 inches of rain in the month of February, according to the rain gauge at the FFA-FCCLA center, which is 78 percent more rain than the 30-year average for the area.

However, Nolan said the forecast doesn’t anticipate much more rain coming, so Newton County shouldn’t see any flooding.

Flood preparation info

The National Weather Service predicted the Yellow River would crest, or peak, around 11 feet, which is the level that first begins to cause minor flooding in Newton County. Once the river gets up to 13 feet, there’s minor flooding at Riverside Estates Mobile Home Park, located on the Access Road just east of Crowell Road. As the river level increases above that, more and more areas become flooded.

The National Weather Service website actually lists where flooding occurs in Newton County based on the height of the Yellow River. Go to weather.gov; click on the state of Georgia on the big map; about midway down click on the button that says "Rivers and Lakes;" scroll below the map and click on the "Yellow River" drop-down menu and select "near Conyers below Milstead; finally, scroll down to the area that says "Flood Impact & Photos" and you’ll see which areas of the county are affected at specific heights of the river.

Nolan said that the South River where it meets Snapping Shoals Creek also was moving into the first stages of flooding, but most of that land is agricultural land that contains no structures.

Nolan encouraged people to use the weather.gov site to monitor the status of nearby rivers, streams or lakes, especially if they may be prone to flooding.

The area around Sewell Road is a very low-lying road, Nolan said, but it hasn’t been raised by the public works department because limited traffic that uses the road and it would be costly to alter.

Drought conditions nearly over

While the minor flooding is inconvenient, the abundant rainfall was needed and could bring Newton County out of drought conditions. The winter is Georgia’s rainy season and the time when the water tables get replenished.

Based on the elevation of lakes and ponds and the ground saturation level, Nolan said he believes the county is just about out of the moderate drought it’s been experiencing. He said the gates at Jackson Lake had to be opened recently to allow water to drain pout because the lake was at full pool.

That’s good news for farmers and those with home gardens. For those planters who don’t know, georgiaweather.net is a treasure trove of climate and soil data for the state. In addition to measuring rainfall, the website also contains soil temperature information.

"(People) used to use the Farmer’s Almanac, but today if you look on the back of seed packages, like hybrids or heirloom plants, it says when you should plant the seeds and what the soil temp should be for optimum seed germination and growth," Nolan said.

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