Is it ever going to stop raining? I’ve been getting this question a lot in the last couple of weeks, as farmers and everyone else get inundated by repeated rounds of thunderstorms that develop over the afternoon hours and grow in the late afternoon heat. I’ve gotten almost three inches of rain in the last week and over five inches in the last 14 days in Athens. And other people I’ve talked to have gotten much more in this hit-or-miss rainfall pattern.
Unfortunately for some, the forecasts for the next few weeks show no major pattern shift. That means we will continue to see frequent rounds of showers that will hit some areas and miss others. In some of the forecast models, I can barely find any dry 24-hours periods in the next two weeks. Humidity levels will be high because of all the moisture, and you certainly won’t have to irrigate much. This pattern means lower daytime temperatures due to the clouds and rain and sunlight will be below average as well. High humidity levels will guarantee that working outside is miserable even if the temperatures are lower. By contrast, nighttime temperatures should be above normal as the high humidity keeps the air from cooling off after sunset. All in all, not much hope in the short term for doing field work and drying hay. But watch the forecasts carefully for those windows of opportunities to get things done and jump on them!
The map below shows the predicted total rainfall from June 28 to July 14. Keep in mind that this is just one model, and one that tends to run a bit wet. But it shows several inches of rain falling across parts of the region in the next 2.5 weeks, which is more than the roughly 1 inch per week that is average. The drier areas (in blue) will be east central Georgia and stretching northeast into the eastern Carolinas, which might actually be below normal over the next three weeks.
Longer term, the swing towards an El Niño seems to be continuing. That should reduce the likelihood of tropical storms later in the summer and on into fall, and could mean drier conditions for harvest. But with the soils so wet now, it will take a while for things to dry out and cut off the moisture that fuels the afternoon storms.