Published on 11/07/19

October ushered in autumn with summer-like temperatures and some drought relief

By Pam Knox

October saw the easing of drought conditions across the state, but many producers reported that the months of dry conditions had already harmed their crops.

Drought covered 61% of the state at the beginning of the month, including several areas of extreme drought. It expanded through midmonth due to lack of rain and record-setting high temperatures, but drought conditions began to decrease by the third week following rain from a slow-moving warm front through south-central Georgia, Tropical Storm Nestor.

Cattle producers reported that they would lose their last cutting of hay due to dormant pastures and would have to use their winter hay stock earlier than usual to feed livestock. Rain from Nestor caused some problems for peanut vine integrity but loosened the soil for harvest. Cotton, soybean and peanut harvest were all ahead of the five-year averages.

With the exception of drought conditions, the most notable climatic trend during October 2019 was the summer-like weather.

Records were set for warm weather at National Weather Service monitoring stations across the region on Oct. 1 through 4, and several of the stations reported their all-time highest October temperature during that time period, including Atlanta with 96 degrees Fahrenheit on Oct. 2, Athens with 100 F on Oct. 3, Alma with 97 F on Oct. 4 and Augusta with 101 F on Oct. 4. Savannah also tied their all-time October record with 97 F on Oct. 4 and reported their latest ever 90 F day on Oct. 31, with the previous latest occurrence occurring on Oct. 27, 2014.

Macon reported a high of 103 F on Oct. 4, breaking the old record of 95 F set in 1954. Brunswick also reported a new daily record of 89 F on Oct. 31, surpassing the old record of 85 F set in 2016, and reported a record high minimum temperature of 80 F on Oct. 2, breaking the old record of 78 F set in 2002.

When the final statistics are calculated, October 2019 is expected to be among the top five warmest Octobers on record.

  • In Albany, the monthly average temperature was 74.3 F, 6.2 degrees above normal.
  • In Alma, the monthly average temperature was 72.2 F, 3.8 degrees above normal.
  • In Athens, the monthly average temperature was 67.4 F, 4.4 degrees above normal.
  • In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 68.4 F, 5.1 degrees above normal.
  • In Augusta, the monthly average temperature was 70.6 F, 6.2 degrees above normal.
  • In Brunswick, the monthly average temperature was 76.2 F, 6.0 degrees above normal.
  • In Columbus, the monthly average temperature was 71.9 F, 5.4 degrees above normal.
  • In Macon, the monthly average temperature was 71.1 F, 6.2 degrees above normal.
  • In Rome, the monthly average temperature was 66.4 F, 5.3 degrees above normal.
  • In Savannah, the monthly average temperature was 73.8 F, 5.9 degrees above normal.
  • In Valdosta, the monthly average temperature was 74.0 F, 5.3 degrees above normal.

Despite the warm weather, the state was wetter than normal, with a few areas receiving more than 6 inches above normal. This welcome rain led to a reduction in drought conditions across the state by the end of the month.

The highest monthly total precipitation measured by a National Weather Service reporting station was 7.84 inches in Rome, 3.98 inches above normal, and the lowest recorded rainfall was recorded in Alma with 3.48 inches, 0.45 inches above normal.

  • Albany 4.64 inches, 2.01 inches above normal.
  • Athens received 3.81 inches, 0.26 inches above normal.
  • Atlanta received 3.59 inches, 0.18 inches above normal.
  • Augusta 4.12 received inches, 0.85 inches above normal.
  • Brunswick 5.36 received inches, 0.90 inches above normal.
  • Columbus received 4.34 inches, 1.76 inches above normal.
  • Macon 5.56 received inches, 2.80 inches above normal.
  • Savannah 7.28 received inches, 3.59 inches above normal.
  • Valdosta 3.58 received inches, 0.38 inches above normal.

Two daily rainfall records were set in October. On Oct. 19, Macon received 2.20 inches, breaking the old record of 1.74 inches set in 1950. On Oct. 31, Athens received 1.33 inches, surpassing the old record of 0.95 inches from 1926. Fortunately, most of the rain ended before dusk, so it did not ruin Halloween for the local children.

The highest daily rainfall total from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network observers was 5.71 inches 6 miles northwest of Dahlonega in Lumpkin County on Oct. 31, followed by 5.56 inches measured north of Jesup in Wayne County on Oct. 16. For the month, an observer near Midway in Liberty County reported a total of 12.26 inches, followed by 12 inches.

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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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