Published on 10/03/13

A drier September gives farmers a break from soggy fields

By Pam Knox

Drier than normal conditions returned to most of Georgia in September, due primarily to the unusually quiet tropics this year.

Farmers used the drier weather to catch up on field work after the state’s extremely wet summer. However, dry conditions hampered the maturation of some soybean pods and reduced production of Bermudagrass hay. Many crops continue to be a week or two behind in development due to the cool and wet conditions that occurred in the past few months.

Despite dry conditions across the state, the southeastern corner was still fairly wet.

Observers with the National Weather Service stations reported their highest monthly rainfall total in Brunswick with 10.89 inches (5.13 inches above normal). They saw the lowest total rainfall in Augusta, where only 1.17 inches fell (2.10 inches below normal).

Savannah received 1.78 inches (2.8 inches below normal); Athens received 2.42 inches (1.52 below normal); Columbus received 1.17 inches (1.89 below normal); Alma received 2.12 inches (1.52 below normal); Atlanta received 2.74 inches (1.73 below normal); and Macon received 1.77 inches (1.82 below normal).

Community Collaborative Rain Hail and Snow Network observers recorded the highest daily rainfall total near Darien in McIntosh County with 4.59 inches on September 26. Most of that fell in a little over two hours. An observer on Jekyll Island in Glynn County reported 3.67 inches on September 24. The highest monthly total rainfall reported by network observers was 12.08 inches, observed on St. Simons in Glynn County, followed by 10.11 inches measured on Jekyll Island in the same county.

There were no precipitation records observed in Georgia in September. There were no temperature records broken either, but Alma tied a record high temperature on September 5, when the high temperature of 95 F equaled that in 1999.

Most of the state saw near average temperatures through out the month.

The monthly average temperature in Atlanta was 74.4 degrees F (0.9 degrees above normal); in Athens the average was 73.2 degrees (0.1 below normal); in Columbus it was 77.9 degrees (1.3 above normal); in Macon it was 74.4 degrees (0.6 below normal); in Savannah it was 77.6 degrees (0.7 above normal); in Brunswick it was 78.5 degrees (0.4 above normal); in Alma it was 77.4 degrees (0.3 above normal); and in Augusta it was 74.5 (0.1 below normal).

Severe weather was reported on six days in September. All were isolated occurrences of wind damage to trees.

A fish kill of approximately 500 striped bass was observed on Hartwell Lake in early September. This was attributed in part to the release of water from Hartwell Dam by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain lake levels for adequate flood protection after the extremely wet conditions in the past few months. It also helped to maintain trout habitat downstream by providing cool water to those areas. The stocking rate for striped bass was estimated to be about seven striped bass per acre, or 400,000 fish for the reservoir, but the exact population is not known.

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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