Streamflow patterns, as one might expect, closely follow rainfall patterns. Winter frontal storms in Georgia bring significant rainfall over many days; spring storms produce substantial rainfall; summer thunderstorms create short thunderstorms; and autumn is normally dry. Streamflows increase during the rainy season and decrease during the dry season.
These are just some of the many things you should know about streams. If you want to learn more, turn to our Yell County streams page. It has lots of helpful links for further reading.
And if you're interested in seeing what streams look like at their best, check out this photo from our nearby national park: Yell Park Wilderness Area. The river here is beautiful throughout the year because it's fed by melting snow and rain. By contrast, most rivers in areas with a hot climate have only flowing water during certain seasons or years.
The park service website also has great information on other topics related to streams. For example, there's a section called "Stream health issues in Yell County." Here you can read about problems such as algae blooms and insect damage that can occur when the quality of water changes too quickly due to poor drainage or other causes.
The jet stream is centered in the southern United States during El Nino, allowing for colder and wetter weather with more snowfall. The opposing phase, La Nina, keeps the jet stream farther north, making Georgia's winters warmer and drier. The weather in North Georgia and the mountains varies from day to day and year to year during the spring season. As long as you aren't afraid of cold or heat, you will be able to enjoy the beauty that Georgia has to offer.
The jet stream affects how far west or east a storm can move before it hits land. During an El Nino, large storms can roll into Georgia from anywhere in the world. During a La Nina, these same storms tend to stay closer to home. However, this doesn't mean that there won't be hurricanes or other severe weather while in either phase. It just means that they are likely to hit other parts of the country instead of moving quickly into Georgia.
El Nino and La Nina are both patterns in the ocean that last for several years together. They influence global climate and lead to changes in the distribution of rain and snow across the United States. The pattern that is currently going on in America is called "neutral". There are still differences between warm and cold phases, but nothing like during an El Nino or La Nina.
During a neutral pattern, Georgia experiences seasons similar to those in the Pacific Northwest.
Georgia has an average annual rainfall of 48 inches (1219.2mm), which ranges from 45 inches (1143mm) in the central and eastern regions to 53 inches (1346.2mm) in the south and 75 inches (1905mm) in the northeast. Rainfall is distributed fairly evenly throughout the year, with only slight differences between seasons. The most rain falls in July at an average of 7.6 inches (192.5mm), while January sees the least at an average of 4.4 inches (110mm). Overall, Georgia averages about 50 inches (1270mm) of precipitation per year.
Rainfall varies depending on elevation. At lower elevations around 40 inches (1015mm) of water fall annually while at higher locations such as in the Smoky Mountains up to 60 inches (1524mm) can be found. Even within a region there can be large differences in rainfall between east and west or north and south. For example, while most of Georgia experiences roughly equal amounts of rain in July and August, the southeast corner gets more than it's fair share in September and October.
Rainfall is measured in several different ways. Total precipitation includes any snow that melts during winter and any liquid that flows from the ground or rises from lakes in the summer.
Georgia will likely suffer more catastrophic floods and droughts in the next decades as the state warms. As the atmosphere warms, evaporation rises, increasing humidity, average rainfall, and the frequency of severe rainstorms in certain areas while contributing to dryness in others. The increased precipitation that does fall may not be sufficient to compensate for this increase in evaporation, leading to larger amounts of water vapor in the air.
Climate change is already having an impact on Georgia's forests and farmers. Thinning trees' use up soil nutrients faster, leaving less food for other plants. More frequent heat waves and drought can damage or even kill trees, making way for more invasive species to take their place. Climate-related changes have also made pastures unproductive when wet, and beaches unusable when flooded.
In addition to these effects on the environment, people are experiencing climate change directly through stronger winds, heavier rains, and longer periods of hot weather. These things can cause problems for buildings (like fallen trees), transportation (like lost crops), and energy (like power outages).
As climate change impacts become more serious, some Georgia counties have started planning for future disasters. Since 2005, Glynn County has been using federal funds to build environmental protection projects like sea walls and flood control channels.