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April 2015 much warmer and wetter than normal in Georgia

April 2015 was much warmer and wetter than normal across the state.  The wet conditions caused delays in planting and contributed to some disease pressure in crops while the warm conditions accelerated the growth of plants like corn that were already in the ground.  While statewide statistics will not be available until later this month, this month is expected to be one of the warmest Aprils on record for Georgia, coming close to the value of 67.9 F set in 2002.

Temperatures across the state were well above normal in April.  In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 65.7 degrees F (3.7 degrees above normal), in Athens 65.1 degrees (3.4 degrees above normal), Columbus 67.9 (3.3 degrees above normal), Macon 66.9 (3.5 above normal), Savannah 70.3 (4.7 above normal), Brunswick 70.5 (4.0 above normal), Alma 70.2 (4.1 above normal), Augusta 66.3 (3.6 above normal), Albany 70.7 (4.5 above normal) and Valdosta 71.5 (5.6 degrees above normal).

temp dep apr 2015

Several daily record temperatures were broken this month.  Atlanta and Athens broke daily record highs on April 8, with 87 F and 89 F, respectively.  This surpassed Atlanta’s old record of 85 F set in 1978 and Athens’ old record of 88 set in 1919.  Alma also tied their record high for that date with 89 F.  Savannah broke their record for highest minimum temperature on April 14, getting down to just 70 F, above the old record of 68 F set in 1947.  Brunswick also set a record high minimum on April 11 with the value of 69 F beating the old record of 68 F set in 2013.

The temperature records were enough to put some individual stations in the top ten rankings of average temperature for April.  According to the April summary provided by NWS Peachtree City, Athens was the 6th warmest on record and Atlanta also tied for 6th warmest.  Columbus was 12th warmest and Macon the 14th warmest on record at these sites.

apr 15 precip

The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 8.01 inches in Athens (4.86 inches above normal) and the lowest was in Brunswick at 3.43 inches (0.94 inches above normal).  Atlanta received 7.79 inches (4.43 inches above normal), Augusta received 4.86 inches (2.02 above normal), Macon received 6.27 inches (3.31 above normal), Columbus 6.47 inches (2.92 above normal), Savannah 6.52 inches (3.45 above normal), Alma 3.65 inches (0.84 above normal), Valdosta 4.84 inches (1.97 above normal), and Albany 5.18 inches (1.54 inches above normal).

apr 15 precip dep

According to the NWS Peachtree City summary, this was the 7th wettest April for Athens and the 8th wettest for Atlanta.  It was the 15th wettest for Macon and the 19th wettest for Columbus.

The highest single-day rainfall from CoCoRaHS stations was 3.70 inches northeast of Midway in Liberty County on April 29, followed by 3.48 inches received northeast of Nelson in Pickens County and 3.46 inches south of Nahunta in Brantley County on the same date. The highest monthly total rainfall was 12.05 inches, observed near Stockbridge in Henry County, followed by 10.42 inches near McDonough in the same county.

After a slow start to the severe weather season earlier this year, Georgia experienced plenty of severe weather this month.  Severe weather was observed somewhere in the state on five days.  An EF-1 tornado was observed on April 3 in Dade County in far northwest Georgia (description at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=20150403_tornado).  Several additional tornadoes were observed on April 19-20 across the state.  A description of the events can be found at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ffc/?n=20150420_severe_weather and http://nws.weather.gov/blog/nwsjacksonville/2015/04/20/nws-damage-survey-result-for-41915-coffee-county-tornado-event/.

The wet conditions caused delays in planting across many areas of the state.  Winds and rain caused lodging and increased disease pressure in some crops.  Harvest of ryegrass for hay and silage was also delayed from the wet conditions, although pastures in general are doing well with all the rain.  Where crops were already in the ground before the spate of wet days at the end of the month, rapid growth was seen due to the warm temperatures.  Farmers were forced to use aerial spraying in some cases to get agricultural chemicals and fertilizer into the fields to help with corn and other crop development.  Some farmers may switch from corn to cotton for the last few acres due to the late planting.

The outlook for May shows a slightly increased chance of cooler and wetter conditions than normal. The three-month outlook shows that there are nearly even chances for above, below or near normal temperatures for the next three months but that wet conditions are likely to continue under the influence of the El Nino.

For more information please see the “Climate and Agriculture” blog at http://site.extension.uga.edu/climate/  or visit our new web page at http://www.gaclimate.org.  Please feel free to email your weather and climate impacts on agriculture to share on the blog to pknox@uga.edu.