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April 2012 was warmer and dryer than normal By Pam Knox

April continued the trend of warmer than normal months across the region. Temperatures continued to be 2 to 4 degrees above normal. Rainfall was scarce across most of the state, leading to increases in drought conditions across all but the far northwest corner of Georgia.

In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 65.8 degrees (3.8 degrees above normal), in Athens the average was 64.5 degrees (2.8 degrees above normal), Columbus saw a 67.8 degree average (3.2 degrees above normal) and Macon saw a 65.8 degree average (2.3 above normal).

Average temperatures in other parts of state were also above normal, with 68.6 degrees in Savannah (3.0 degrees above normal), 70.5 degrees in Brunswick (4.0 degrees above normal), 68.7 degrees in Alma (2.5 degrees above normal) and 65.4 degrees in Augusta (2.7 degrees above normal).

It was the eighth warmest April on record for Atlanta out of 134 years of recording.

While April on a whole was warmer than normal for all of Georgia, some Georgia cities saw record-breaking or record-tying temperatures.

Atlanta had a record high temperature on April 3 with 87 degrees, replacing the old record of 86 degrees set in 1946.

Columbus had record highs on April 29 and 30, with 90 degrees and 94 degrees. This surpassed the old records of 89 degrees set on April 29, 1985 and 92 degrees set on April 30, 1970.

Macon saw a record high of 92 degrees on April 29, breaking the record of 90 degrees set in 1985. Brunswick reported 89 degrees on April 2, surpassing the old record of 87 degrees set in 2006.

Alma had record highs of 88 degrees on April 2 and 93 degrees on April 29 breaking the old records of 87 degrees set in 2006, and 92 degrees set in 2002.

April was dry everywhere in Georgia, although some areas did receive more rain than others.

The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 2.23 inches in Atlanta (1.13 inches below normal) and the lowest was in Savannah at 0.48 inches (2.59 inches below normal.)

Augusta received 1.45 inches (1.39 inches below normal), Brunswick 0.53 (1.96 inches below normal), Macon 1.03 (1.93 inches below normal), Alma 1.57 (1.24 inches below normal), Columbus 0.49 (3.06 inches below normal) and Athens 1.36 (1.79 inches below normal).

The highest single-day rainfall from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network stations was 3.77 inches in north central Georgia near Ila in Madison County.

A nearby observer at Danielsville received 3.33 inches, another Madison County observer, in Comer, received 3.07 inches.

The highest monthly total precipitation was 5.54 inches at the Ila station, followed by 5.50 inches in Rabun Gap, in Rabun County, and 5.25 inches at the Comer station.

Severe weather was reported on seven days in April. All of these reports were for scattered damage due to high winds and small hail.

The storms caused damage to some crops. Additional damage to fruit and other crops was caused by frost in northern Georgia during the second week in April.

Due to the warm temperatures and dry conditions, drought expanded in Georgia over the month. At the end of the month 84 percent of Georgia was experiencing some degree of drought, including 20 percent of the state in exceptional drought. Due to warm late spring temperatures and likely continuation of dry conditions, drought is expected to expand over Georgia in May.

(Pam Knox serves as University of Georgia Agricultural Climatologist with UGA Department of Crop and Soil Science.)

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