Published on 09/11/13

August rounds out this cool, wet Georgia summer

By Pam Knox

Georgia’s wet summer continued though out August in most parts of the state, and clouds and high humidity kept temperatures below normal for the month.

Many areas of the state have already surpassed their annual average rainfall levels with several months left to go in 2013.

The frequent rainfall was beneficial for crop dusters, who were still able to apply agricultural chemicals to fields that were too wet to work with tractors. Farmers reported trouble with corn and soybeans crops due to the cool, cloudy conditions and soaked fields. Farm stands reported their sales are down this year due to low yields and high costs of their products. They noted that the wet conditions have reduced sugars in some fruit, making the flavor suffer.

Insect populations have also thrived due to the wet conditions after two years of drought. Mosquitoes are still out in force. Yellow jackets have traded nests in the ground for aboveground quarters due to the saturated soils.

Cooler average temperatures

In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 77.5 degrees Fahrenheit (1.9 degrees below normal); Athens was 76.9 degrees (2.7 below normal); Augusta was 78.2 (2.3 below normal); Columbus was 80.4 degrees (1.5 below normal); Macon was 78.4 degrees (2.5 below normal); Savannah was 81.4 degrees (0.1 below normal); Brunswick was 82 degree (0.2 above normal); and Alma was 81.5 degrees (0.2 above normal).

A number of temperature records were set or tied in August. In mid-August a wedge of cold air moved into Georgia from the northeast, down the east side of the Appalachian Mountains. This caused unusually cool conditions that are more often seen in October. The last time such a cold event occurred in August in Georgia was at the end of the month in 1986.

Warm humid air flowing north from the Tropics rose over the wedge of cold air, causing significant amounts of rain in the southern part of the state.

Atlanta set record-low, daytime temperatures on Aug. 16 and 17, when daily high temperatures of 67 and 66 degrees, respectively, were observed. These temperatures broke the old records of 70 and 74 degrees, set in 1892 and 1939, respectively.

Columbus reported both a record-low temperature of 66 degrees and a record-low, maximum temperature of 74 degrees on Aug. 16. These temperatures broke the old records of 67 degrees for the low set in 1967, and 77 degrees for the high set in 1994.

Macon also broke their record-low, maximum temperature on Aug. 16, with an observed temperature of 71 degrees. This broke the old record of 75 degrees set in 1994.

Savannah reported 76 degrees on Aug. 15, which broke the old record-low, maximum temperature of 80 degrees set in 1944. Augusta broke its record-low, maximum temperatures on Aug. 15, 16 and 17. Athens tied its record-low, maximum temperature on Aug. 16. Brunswick tied its record high for Aug. 13 (1963) with 96 degrees.

Rainfall records set across the state

The highest monthly precipitation total reported by National Weather Service observers was 10.2 inches in Macon (6.1 inches above normal) and the lowest was in Atlanta at 5.24 inches (1.34 inches above normal). Savannah received 7.03 inches (0.47 inches above normal); Athens received 5.68 inches (2.15 above normal); Augusta received 5.84 inches (1.52 above normal); Columbus received 8.63 inches (4.86 above normal); Alma received 9.45 inches (4.04 above normal); and Brunswick received 7.9 inches (1.63 above normal).

Columbus had their wettest August in 66 years. Macon had the second wettest; Augusta had the third wettest; Atlanta had the fourth wettest; Athens had the sixth wettest; and Savannah the 11th wettest. All of the stations with the exception of Columbus have over 100 years of climate records.

Daily rainfall records were set in Atlanta (2.66 inches on Aug. 7), Macon (2.15 inches on Aug. 23) and Alma (2.2 inches on Aug. 16). Columbus received 5.73 inches on Aug. 14, not only smashing the old daily record of 2.04 inches (set in 1952), but also barely missing the all-time, one-day rainfall record of 5.74 inches (set on April 1, 1981).

The highest single-day rainfall recorded by Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network observers was 5.75 inches near Toccoa in Stephens County on Aug. 8. One Tybee Island observer reported 5.73 inches on Aug. 17. The highest monthly total rainfall was 14.18 inches, observed near Statesboro in Bulloch County, followed by 13.7 inches measured southwest of Sautee in White County.

Severe weather was reported on 12 days in August. A small tornado caused minor damage on Aug. 18 along the Alabama border in Heard County. Other damage was due to strong winds and small hail. Flooding led to road closures in northern Georgia on Aug. 7.

Pam Knox is the director of the UGA Weather Network and serves as an agricultural climatologist with the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences.

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