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Drought Conditions Result from less Tropical Activity and Greater Demand for Water, according to MU Professor

Oct. 24, 2007

Story Contact:  Bryan Daniels, (573) 882-9144,
Tony Lupo, (573) 884-1638,

COLUMBIA, Mo. - A state of emergency has been declared in Georgia due to drought conditions of historic proportions. It has forced the state's governor to order cuts in water withdrawals and request drinking water permits in several counties.

Due to less tropical activity, the state is running out of water. The severe drought conditions throughout Georgia and the region are unprecedented, said Tony Lupo, associate professor of atmospheric science at the University of Missouri-Columbia.             

"I can't recall a time when it has been this dry, at least in our lifetime, in that part of the country," Lupo said. "It's really crucial. Georgia, like many other states in the southeast, depends on the tropics for water. This year, the tropical season has been pretty quiet. They haven’t had any of that this year."

Lupo said increased water demands, due to urbanization and large population growth, also factor into the issue. Georgia officials have said Lake Lanier, a 38,000-acre reservoir that supplies Atlanta residents with water, is fewer than three months from depletion.                        

"The thought process was probably that they would never get this close to running out of water because of the ample supply of moisture that is received each year," he said. "The population growth has been so heavy."         

Current weather models, according to Lupo, are not encouraging as drought conditions are expected to remain for the next month and throughout much of the winter. "At this point, they need to pray for rain or hope a late season tropical storm develops," he said.                           

Lupo is an expert on global climate change and severe weather in the Midwest. He earned his doctoral degree from Purdue University in 1995 and has done research at Purdue, the State University of New York-Albany and MU. He is a fellow in the Royal Meteorological Society and a member of the American Meteorology Society.

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