Climate and Agriculture in the Southeast

Warmer than normal temperatures and seasonal precipitation helped farmers in April 2019

After a cool March, the heat returned to Georgia in April 2019, with most of the state experiencing temperatures that were 2 to 3 degrees F above normal. Rainfall was variable across the state, with dry conditions across the southeastern part of the state and a streak of wet conditions stretching from north of Columbus to the northeastern corner of the state due to a strong low pressure center that passed through the state in mid-month.

In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 65.3 degrees F (3.3 degrees above normal), in Athens 63.9 degrees F (2.2 degrees above normal), Columbus 66.5 F (1.9 degrees above normal), Macon 65.3 F (1.9 above normal), Savannah 67.8 F (2.2 above normal), Brunswick 69.3 F (2.8 above normal), Alma 67.8 F (1.6 above normal), Augusta 66.0 F (3.3 above normal), Albany 68.1 F (1.9 above normal), Rome 63.4 F (3.6 above normal), and Valdosta 66.6 F (0.7 degrees above normal).

Savannah and Brunswick reported daily records for high minimum temperature on April 14, when the low temperature at each station only fell to 71 F, breaking the old record of 70 F set in 2015. Alma tied their high minimum temperature of 69 F (with 1972) on the same date. Brunswick also broke their record high minimum on April 13, with 72 F breaking the old record of 69 F set in 1994.

Precipitation was near normal across central and northern parts of Georgia in April 2019 and drier than normal in the southeast. The exception was a streak of much above normal rainfall that fell from north of Columbus northeast to Rabun County. Most of that rain fell on April 19 as a strong low pressure center passed through the state. The highest monthly total precipitation from National Weather Service reporting stations was 6.34 inches in Atlanta (2.98 inches above normal) and the lowest was in Brunswick with 2.06 inches (0.43 inches below normal). Athens received 3.38 inches (0.23 inches above normal), Columbus 4.36 inches (0.81 above normal), Macon 2.90 inches (0.06 below normal), Savannah 2.49 inches (0.58 below normal), Alma 2.28 inches (0.53 below normal), Augusta 3.01 inches (0.17 above normal), Rome 3.71 inches (0.34 below normal), Albany 2.95 inches (0.69 below normal) and Valdosta 2.08 inches (0.79 inches below normal).

Daily rainfall records were set at Atlanta and Athens on April 19, with observations of 3.37 inches beating the old record of 1.45 inches set in 1940 and 2.14 inches passing the old record of 1.75 inches set in 1943, respectively.

The highest 24-hour rainfall total from CoCoRaHS observers in April was 6.18 inches observed south of Toccoa in Stephens County on the night of April 19, followed by 6.13 inches measured west of Carnesville in Franklin County the next morning. The highest monthly amount was 9.75 inches measured by the Carnesville observer, followed by 9.58 inches measured in Rabun Gap in Rabun County.

Dry conditions around the state experienced only small changes this month from week to week with no large shifts in area.

Severe weather occurred on six days in April. Isolated strong winds and hail occurred on April 6, 8 and 9. On April 14 four tornadoes occurred, including EF-1 tornadoes in Lamar and Colquitt Counties. The major outbreak of severe weather occurred on April 18 and 19 ahead of the strong low, with many reports of damaging wind along with four weak tornadoes in Lauren, Camden, Fulton and Hall Counties.

The slightly drier than normal conditions and warmer temperatures helped agricultural producers make a lot of progress this month in crop planting and chemical treatments. The dry conditions did cause problems for small grains, which were impacted by the lack of moisture, but some farmers were able to get in their first cutting of hay. Areas that were affected by the wet conditions in mid-month saw a temporary slowdown in field work while they waited for soils to dry down enough to support heavy equipment.

The outlook for May 2019 and for the May through July period shows that the temperatures for the next three months are expected to be warmer than normal. Precipitation is expected to be above normal in the three month period but leans only slightly to wetter than normal conditions in May. If wet conditions occur, then the current dry conditions would be expected to go away as we get deeper into the growing season.

For more information please see the “Climate and Agriculture” blog at https://site.extension.uga.edu/climate/. We are also on Facebook at SEAgClimate and on Twitter at @SE_AgClimate.  Please feel free to email your weather and climate impacts on agriculture to share on the blog to pknox@uga.edu.