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Spell of rain helps amidst dry summer
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Covington residents largely got what they wanted this weekend, a little bit of rain without any damage from Tropical Storm Lee.

In fact, many residents wish their rainfall had been a little heavier than the half an inch to inch of rain received Sunday and Monday.

During an already drier than normal summer, August added the driest weather yet. Only 1.15 inches fell during the month, well short of the 3.99-inch 30-year average. July was actually slightly above normal, while June had 1.49 inches of rain, 2.35 inches below normal, according to

For the year, Covington is 9.64 inches below normal, joining much of the state in some form of drought. South Georgia has been hit extremely hard by drought.

County Extension Agent Ted Wynne said the dry summer persuaded many farmers to abandon plans to plant soybeans, with total soybean acreage in the county falling from 1,200 acres in 2010 to around 100 acres this year.

While it was too late to save that crop, which is generally a bigger money maker, if the recent rain keeps up, it could help late hay harvests. Newton County's most dominant agricultural industry is cattle, and they need hay to eat.

Looking forward, Wynne said the ideal weather for upcoming wheat plantings would be reliable rains through mid-September and then a drier spell through October.
State Climatologist David Stooksbury said the summer was the third warmest on record for the state as a whole and Atlanta in particular. The average high temperature was 92.5 degrees in Atlanta, while the rainfall was the ninth lowest.

This weekend's rains brought some cooler temperatures with them as highs stayed in the low-80s. Tropical Storm Lee wreaked havoc elsewhere, but skipped Newton County.
Jody Nolan, deputy director for the county's Emergency Management Agency, said the only reported damage was a handful of Bradford pear trees that were blown down off Hightower Trail.

"We were kind of spared...there were potentially five tornadoes in the Atlanta area that did significant damage, and we had warnings and watches all around us, but before they made it to Newton County the warnings were cancelled," Nolan said.

Residents weren't so lucky in North Georgia, where a tornado damaged or destroyed roughly 400 homes.

Officials at the National Weather Service said the damage on the ground in Cherokee County shows that a tornado with maximum winds of around 90 m.p.h. touched down south of the Dixie Speedway near Woodstock. Meteorologist Jessica Fieux said the tornado was about a quarter-mile wide and traveled about 24 miles on the ground before lifting off in Nelson. Only one man received minor injuries in Cherokee County.

One man died after being swept into a fast-moving creek near a dam in Norcross and officials at Fort Stewart said a lightning strike sent about 22 soldiers to the hospital Monday, with at least three kept overnight.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.