September 1 marks the start of climatological fall for atmospheric scientists like me. As I write this article (for the Peanut Pointers newsletter) on September 2, the tropics are active, with two named storms (Nana and Omar) and two more areas that could develop in the next week. Tropical activity is part of autumn in the Southeast, since we are not even halfway through this hurricane season yet (the mid-way point is around September 10 but it can go into November or occasionally even later). With such an active season, we are likely to see more tropical activity in the peanut-growing regions, although where and when are not certain. If you are not prepared, there is still time to do so. And keep watching the forecasts, because when one does head your way, you may not have much time to get ready.
Summer for most of the Southeast was warmer and wetter than normal. Nights were especially warm, due in part to high humidity, which kept temperatures from falling overnight. We can also see this in some of the humidity-related diseases that are showing up in many crops this year. At the same time, parts of southern Georgia experienced fairly dry conditions which caused some stress on crops, although that has mostly been alleviated for now.
The forecast models show that we are likely to see our first breath of cooler air coming in from the north by the end of the first week of September. At this point it is not clear that it will make it all the way to the coast, but some areas should see more fall-like conditions, at least temporarily. The forecast for September still puts southern Georgia and Alabama and Florida in an increased chance for warmer than normal temperature. Rainfall for the next three months is expected to be above normal across most of the region due in large part to the tropical activity that is expected to occur yet this year. But there will be plenty of sunny, dry days as well, so you should have time to get your field work done, especially if the tropical storms go elsewhere.
We are currently in a La Nina watch, and I expect that one will be declared in the next month or two. If one occurs, we can expect drier, warmer and sunnier conditions across most of southern Georgia and Alabama and Florida over the winter. Lack of winter rainfall can lead to dry conditions in the following growing season, but we have a lot of time and weather to experience before we have to worry about that.