By Sharon Omahen
University of Georgia
A series of rain showers put a damper on Memorial Day picnics and kept students from enjoying the first week of their summer break. The rain was a welcomed sight, however, for farmers and gardeners.
Data from the University of Georgia Automated Environmental Monitoring Network shows that south Georgia got the most rain from May 29 through June 4.
60 stations statewide
The UGA AEMN is a network of 60 weather stations across the state. The stations monitor daily rainfall, air and soil temperature, relative humidity, solar radiation, air pressure and wind direction.
The information is updated at least hourly and posted to the network's Web site (www.Georgiaweather.net).
The highest total recorded from May 29 through June 4 was in Alma, Ga., where 6.75 inches fell. In other south Georgia areas, the rains brought 5.07 inches to Dearing, 4.98 to Valdosta, 4.78 inches to Attapulgus and 4.19 to Statesboro.
"Rainfall recorded by our network in these areas is three times the historical average for this time of year," said Joel Paz, an Extension agrometeorologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. "The historical period for our system is from 1971 to 2000."
In comparison, central and northeast Georgia cities received less than 4 inches of rain. The weather network recorded 3.91 inches in Athens, 3.28 inches in Eatonton and 3.24 inches in Griffin.
North Georgia cities like LaFayette (1.61), Calhoun (1.08) and Rome (0.97) had less rain.
Paz says the AEMN weather stations use a much more sophisticated collecting system than backyard rain gauges.
"Each weather site has a rain collecting cup that collects one-hundredth of an inch of rain and then tips to empty," he said. "The computer system records each tip to determine how much rain fell on a given day at each site."
The UGA weather network was developed in 1991. It's the brainchild of UGA CAES professor Gerrit Hoogenboom.
A wide array of uses
Hoogenboom's original goal was to have one station at each of UGA's nine agricultural experiment stations. Thirteen years and 60 weather stations later, he now hopes to eventually have a station in every county.
"The first weather stations were installed for UGA scientists to use for their research," Hoogenboom said. "Now, every day, we're hearing of new, unique ways people are using the real-time weather data we collect, from helping predict propane demand to helping farmers know the right time to apply chemical controls."
(Sharon Omahen is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)