The strong grip that a drought has had on Mississippi is weakening. It's evident at Okatibbee Lake in Lauderdale County where, for the last two years, most recreational water activities including swimming have been restricted due to shallow water.
"It has been really bad for the locals to come out to swim and recreate," said Jack Huntley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
While this rain is helping the water level, engineers say there is still a way to go. Usually the water goes all the way up half the shore. But it's still pretty dry there. Engineers say this can change, but it will all depend on Mother Nature.
"Right now there are still questions whether or not the rain will continue through spring," said Huntley. "They say we still could have a little of a drought coming into the spring."
But Huntley says he is optimistic and he has good reason to be. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows the drought level in August 2007 at extreme and moderate. The current Drought Monitor shows the lowest level of intensity.
"We are going to be back on schedule if we have a good spring. We should come up and will be fine by summer," Huntley said.
Since mid-December, Huntley has tracked eleven inches of rain at Okatibbee, and is waiting for more, so the public can resume the regular summer activities of swimming, boating, jet skiing, and fishing there.
When that happens is when it will be business as usual at Okatibbee.
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