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Recent Rain Helps, But Doesn't Erase Drought

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Rain ended across the Triangle Tuesday morning, but not before giving the region a much-needed soaking.
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    Many parts of the area are under water restrictions because of drought conditions. Monday's rains, which ranged between 4 inches and just under an inch, are expected to make a dent in the drought.

    However, water restrictions are not likely to end throughout the area because of the rain. In fact, Raleigh indicated Monday that it would not ease water usage rules.

    The rain ended round mid-morning Tuesday after a slow, steady drenching that started early Monday and lasted until early Tuesday morning.

    Raleigh saw just over 2 inches of rain at the RDU Airport. The most rain in the central North Carolina region was Oxford with nearly 3 inches. Roxboro received less than an inch while South Hill, Va., got more than 4 inches. The Raleigh-Durham region needs about 7 inches of rain to get back to normal.

    In the last 48 hours, Falls Lake, Raleigh's reservoir, has risen nearly 6 inches from the rain. The lake should show even more runoff by Wednesday, said Dale Crisp, the city's public utilities director.

    Officials in Durham said the water level in Lake Michie would be accurately read after a few days to allow water to flow to the lake.

    "Unless we get a lot more rain, it's not going to do a whole lot of good, to be honest," Terry Rolan, director of Durham's water department, said Monday.

    To ease its shortage, Durham has begun buying 1.4 million gallons a day from the town of Cary for $3,745 a day.

    Governments in the area have enacted water conservation rules and they have helped reduce water consumption. Raleigh water customers used 41 million gallons a day over the weekend, a decline from the normal level of 60 million gallons a day.

    The rain also helped Raleigh avoid tighter restrictions, which would have banned irrigation systems and made first-time offenders pay a $1,000 fine, Crisp said.

    Currently, fines for a first offense are $200 and lawn watering is restricted to two times a week.

    The weather did bring some problems to the area.

    There were several power outages reported, with nearly 5,000 people without power at one point Tuesday morning.

    Also, several car accidents happened Monday night and Tuesday, including a tractor-trailer tie-up on Interstate 40 and a wreck on U.S. 264.

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