The remnants of Tropical Storm Fay spread over a wide swath of the South on Monday, bringing heavy rain and wind from Georgia to Louisiana that many hoped would help areas parched for months by drought.
The National Weather Service said the vestiges of Fay would deluge northern Georgia on Monday and today with 3 to 5 inches of rain expected in the Atlanta area and up to 8 inches in northeast Georgia. In Alabama, flash flood and tornado warnings were posted.
In Georgia, farmers began assessing damage to crops. The storm's high wind and torrential rain seemed to take the heaviest toll on Georgia's $128-million pecan crop, especially in southern counties along the Florida line, according to preliminary assessments. Pecan grower Tom Stone's well-tended orchards were in shambles.
"I was devastated," he said after surveying the damage. "We've lost 50 percent of the crop. We knew we were going to get a little rain, but we didn't know we were going to get all this wind and rain together."
The tropical blast also toppled cornstalks throughout southern Georgia and blew some tobacco leaves off their stalks. The moist conditions also make cotton plants vulnerable to a disease known as boll rot.
Georgia climatologist David Stooksbury said the rain will improve stream flows, pastures and slightly raise the levels of major reservoirs, including Lake Lanier, which is the main source of drinking water for metro Atlanta. "It will not end the drought. It will make a dent," he said.
The rain was good news in some areas of North Carolina's drought-stricken mountains, where up to an inch of rain fell Monday.