A small area of drought returned to Georgia at the end of last month, following a record-setting dry July in Alma.
The weather station there received only 0.44 inches for the month, much lower than the previous record of 0.77 inches set in 2006. Most of the state received less than the normal rainfall, but cooler temperatures helped lower soil moisture losses.
In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 77.9 degrees F (2.3 degrees below normal); in Athens the average was 79.3 degrees (1.3 below normal); in Columbus the average was 80.3 degrees (2.2 below normal); in Macon the average was 78.9 degrees (2.9 below normal); in Savannah the average was 82.9 degrees (0.3 above normal); in Brunswick the average was 82.1 degrees (0.7 below normal); in Alma the average was 81.8 degrees (0.2 below normal); in Augusta the average was 80.4 degrees (1.3 below normal); in Albany the average was 81.7 degrees (0.7 below normal); and in Valdosta the average was 84.1 degrees (2.7 above normal).
A number of temperature records were set this month. Macon was the tenth coldest July on record in 122 years of observations.
Record low temperatures were set on July 17 in Atlanta, Augusta and Alma, and tied in Columbus and Macon. Previous records were surpassed by one to three degrees. Record low temperatures were also broken on July 30 in Atlanta, Columbus and Macon (by two to three degrees) and tied in Athens.
A record low maximum temperature of 80 degrees was reported in Brunswick on July 12, breaking the old record of 83 degrees set in 1975.
The cold conditions were associated with a high-amplitude wave pattern that brought continuing drought, forest fires and warm temperatures to the western United States, while bringing cool and dry Canadian air to the eastern half of the country.
High temperature records were also tied or broken in July. Alma reported a record high of 99 degrees F and Brunswick a high of 97 degrees on July 3, equal to the observations from 2006. A record high minimum temperature of 77 degrees F was also set in Alma on July 28, breaking the old record of 76 degrees set in 2011.
The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 5.24 inches in Augusta (1.06 inches above normal) and the lowest was in Alma at 0.44 inches (4.92 inches below normal). Atlanta received 4.6 inches (0.67 below normal); Athens received 4.22 inches (0.25 below normal); Macon received 5.04 inches (0.09 above normal); Albany received 0.53 inches (4.93 below normal); Brunswick received 2.7 inches (1.38 below normal); and Valdosta received 3.84 inches (2.79 below normal).
Several daily precipitation records were set in July. On July 19, Atlanta set a daily record of 2.18 inches, surpassing the old record of 2.09 inches set in 1897. On the same day, Athens received 2.81 inches, breaking the old record of 1.72 inches set in 1919. Augusta received 1.81 inches on July 25, breaking the old record of 0.64 set in 1952.
The highest single-day rainfall from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 6 inches recorded east of Savannah in Chatham County on July 22 Two other Chatham County CoCoRaHS observers nearby reported 5.25 and 4.88 inches on the same day, respectively. The highest monthly total rainfall was 12.11 inches, observed on Tybee Island in Chatham County, followed by 12.09 inches from another Tybee observer and 10.25 inches reported east of Savannah.
Severe weather occurred in Georgia on eight of 31 days in the month. Wind damage was due to scattered thunderstorms associated with fronts passing through the area.
Agricultural crops were progressing across the state, but areas with less rainfall observed significant stress on crops and an increase in pests and diseases. Some delays in planting soybeans after wheat were noted in drier areas. Growth of pastures in some areas was hindered by the lack of rainfall. Drying of hay in other areas was helped by the dry conditions.
August has a slightly increased chance of warmer than normal temperatures in Florida and southern Georgia and Alabama, but equal chances elsewhere. There are also equal chances for above, near or below normal rainfall.
As we enter the most active period of tropical storm development, Tropical Storm Bertha has developed in the Atlantic Ocean but is expected to turn before reaching the coast. Additional storms are likely to develop this month, but their paths and intensities cannot be determined at this point.
For more information, see the “Climate and Agriculture” blog at blog.extension.uga.edu/climate/. Email reports of weather and climate impacts on agriculture to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Pam Knox serves as University of Georgia Agricultural Climatologist with UGA Department of Crop and Soil Science.)