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Feast or famine for August rainfall in Georgia

August 2014 Climate Summary

Rainfall across Georgia was highly variable in August.  Most areas of the state received well below normal rainfall for the month, leading to expansion of dry conditions and the appearance of severe drought in southern Georgia by the end of the month.  Wet conditions were confined to the Atlanta metro area and regions to the northwest and a small part of northern Pierce County.  Temperatures were near normal across the state.

In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 79.0 degrees F (0.4 degrees below normal), in Athens 79.3 degrees (0.3 degrees below normal), Columbus 81.5 (0.4 degrees below normal), Macon 79.8 (1.1 below normal), Savannah 83.1 (1.6 above normal), Brunswick 82.6 (0.8 above normal), Alma 82.0 (0.7 above normal) and Augusta 79.7 (0.8 below normal).   Albany recorded 82.4 F (0.4 above normal) and Valdosta 83.9 (2.7 above normal).

Several temperature records were set during the month.  Macon and Augusta reported record low maximum temperatures of 78 F on 8/2, surpassing the old records of 79 F set in 1918 and 80 set in 1977, respectively.  Savannah reported a record high of 100 F on August 23, breaking the old record of 99 F on 8/23 set in 1987.  Brunswick also reported record highs on 8/22 and 8//23, with 98 F and 99 F surpassing the old records of 97 F set in 1966 on the 22nd and 95 F set in 2006.  Augusta also set a record low temperature of 56 F on August 28, breaking the old record of 59 F set in 1969.  Several other records were also tied during the month.

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The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 6.63 inches in Alma (1.22 inches above normal) and the lowest was in Albany at 0.78 inches (4.06 inches below normal).  Atlanta received 5.80 inches (1.90 above normal), Athens received 1.89 inches (1.64 below normal), Augusta received 1.76 inches (2.56 below normal), Brunswick 4.80 inches (1.47 below normal), Columbus 1.69 inches (2.08 below normal), and Savannah 3.41 inches (3.15 below normal).  Macon received 1.05 inches (3.05 below normal) and Valdosta 6.08 (0.74 above normal).

Macon’s monthly rainfall was the third driest in 122 years of record, and driest ever at the airport location.  The last time it was that dry in August was 0.70 inches measured in 1925 at the city office.  Columbus was the sixth driest in 67 years of record.  The last time it was that dry there was 1.68 inches in 1990.

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The highest single-day rainfall from CoCoRaHS stations was 6.02 inches east of Savannah in Chatham County on August 3.  Another nearby observer received 5.50 inches on the same date.  An observer ENE of Helen in Habersham County received 5.76 inches on August 10.  The highest monthly total rainfalls were 11.75 inches and 11.64 inches from the same two Savannah observers, followed by 11.05 inches measured on Skidaway Island.

Severe weather was observed somewhere in Georgia on twelve days out of the month.  One tornado was reported during the month, an EF-1 tornado observer on August 20 in Murray and Gilmer Counties near Pleasant Hill.  A report on this tornado can be found at https://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=20140820_tornado.

Due to the dry conditions across most of the state, drought expanded in the southwest and south central regions.  By the end of the month, severe drought covered eight percent of the state and over 50 percent was covered by abnormally dry or worse conditions.  Low dewpoint temperatures and low humidity helped reduce foliar diseases on some crops.  A CoCoRaHS observer in central Georgia noted that leaves were falling like it was autumn and that all chance for an additional cutting of hay was gone.  He is down 80 bales compared to last year.  A brush fire near Macon on August 27 was expected to continue to smolder until the next significant rain event.

These monthly climate summaries, along with other information on climate and agriculture in Georgia and the Southeast, is posted on the “Climate and Agriculture” blog at https://site.extension.uga.edu/climate/ as well as other sites.  Please feel free to email your weather and climate impacts on agriculture to share on the blog to .