Georgia summers are notoriously hot. But this one has been a record-setter, with August capping a string of months with temperatures significantly above average.
For June, July and August, several airport locations recorded their warmest summer in history, including Savannah, Athens, Columbus and Alma. Other locations, like Atlanta, Macon, Augusta and Brunswick, recorded their second or third hottest summer ever. Nighttime minimum temperatures were especially high, contributing to the warm and muggy feel.
Temperatures were warmer than normal everywhere in Georgia in August. In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 82.8 degrees F (3.9 degrees above normal), in Athens 82.2 degrees (3.8 degrees above normal), Columbus 85.4 degrees (4.1 degrees above normal), Macon 83.8 degrees (3.8 degrees above normal), Savannah 84.2 degrees (3.4 degrees above normal), Brunswick 84.1 degrees (2.8 degrees above normal), Alma 83.8 degrees (2.7 degrees above normal), Valdosta 84.1 degrees (4.3 degrees above normal), and Augusta 82.3 degrees (3 degrees above normal).
Despite the unrelenting heat, there were no daily temperature records broken in August, although several record high temperatures and high minimum temperatures were tied. Rainfall across the state was highly variable. Some areas received more than 200 percent of normal and other areas received less than 50 percent of normal rain.
The highest monthly total from National Weather Service reporting stations was 7.62 inches in Athens (3.84 inches above normal). The lowest was Columbus at 2.45 inches (1.33 inches below normal). Valdosta received 3.48 inches (1.95 inches below normal), Alma 2.72 inches (2.78 inches below normal), Brunswick 4.94 inches (1.22 inches below normal), Atlanta 3.32 inches (.35 inch below normal), Macon 3.57 inches (.22 inch below normal), Savannah 5.30 inches (1.90 inches below normal), and Augusta 2.04 inches (2.44 inches below normal).
Record daily rainfall was set Aug. 21 in Brunswick, where 1.15 inches fell, breaking the old record of 1.04 inches set in 2009. Savannah also set a daily rainfall record of 3.21 inches Aug. 22, breaking the old record of 2.78 inches set in 1929.
The highest single-day rainfall from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 4.69 inches at Tybee Island Aug. 17. An observer in White County received 4.22 inches Aug. 22. The highest monthly rainfall total in August was 16.82 inches near Midway in Liberty County, followed by 14.55 inches from an observer near Sylvania in Screven County.
Scattered wind damage hit somewhere in Georgia on nine days during the month. Small hail was reported near Atlanta Aug. 28. No tornadoes were reported in August.
Weather conditions fueled the development of armyworms, which some agricultural agents listed as the worst they had seen in 25 years. They devastated pastures and hayfields in locations across the state.
(Pam Knox serves as University of Georgia Agricultural Climatologist with UGA Department of Crop and Soil Science.)