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Climate outlook for July 2019 and beyond

The latest forecasts for July and beyond came out over the weekend. They show that all of Georgia is expected to be warmer than normal in temperature for the month of July. This trend is expected to continue through fall. Most of the trend is due to the long-term increases in temperature we are seeing across the Southeast since the 1960s, but are in tune with the persistent high pressure over our region that has been dominating the weather pattern for the last few months.

Precipitation for July is expected to be below normal for most of the state other than the southeastern corner, with the strongest likelihood in northern Georgia. This is likely to result in the persistence of drought in southern Georgia and southeast Alabama and could even mean an increase in dry conditions and potential drought in southwestern Georgia. After July, the models do not lean towards wetter or drier conditions than usual. This is not surprising because rainfall in the summer months is mostly due to either tropical systems or small-scale thunderstorm rainfall, which climate models do not handle well. If dry conditions persist, then it is harder to form daily thunderstorms, which can perpetuate the dryness. But it only takes one event, either a tropical system or a wet frontal system, to drastically change the local soil moisture and the boundary conditions that allow local thunderstorms to develop, so there is not much confidence in precipitation forecasts for the next few months.

The tropics have been pretty quiet so far this year, but we are early in the season and that is not surprising. Right now most of the activity is in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, but that is expected to shift east to the Atlantic in the next couple of months. The prediction of an average number of storms this season for the Atlantic basin is based on a combination of increased chances of development due to warmer than normal sea surface temperatures and the continuation of El Nino, which tends to prevent tropical storm formation with strong winds aloft, which prevent the storm circulations from developing. Of course, we are not able to predict where any storms that do form will go more than a few days ahead, so keep watching the local forecasts for any sign of activity moving towards your location. Because of the warm ocean temperatures, rapid intensification of any storm that does develop is more likely, and heavier rainfall could also occur, especially if the storm moves slowly.