Picture of the UGA campus in front of the Geography/Geology building last year on November 8, 2013. Image Credit: Matt Daniel
A Fall scene on the University of Georgia campus. Image Credit: ugaonline.uga.edu
A Fall scene on the University of Georgia campus. Image Credit: ugaonline.uga.edu

The summer of 2013 across much of Georgia was cooler and wetter than average (read our summary of Georgia’s summer here). Many places in Georgia had already approached or exceeded their average annual precipitation totals by the beginning of September. The wet and unsettled pattern changed, and paved the way for a drier than average September-November time period across much of Georgia. Temperatures throughout the fall remain close to average with only a few extremes seen. Below, we’ll break down how some Georgia cities, especially Athens, fared in regards to precipitation and temperature.

Fall rainfall totals:

September - November Precipitation Ranks. Image Credit: NOAA.
September – November Precipitation Ranks. Image Credit: NOAA.

During the summer, the pattern across the Southeast US had moisture from the Gulf of Mexico easily stream into Georgia. This, coupled with the heating of the day, led to numerous thunderstorms that dropped loads of rainfall during the summer. In a stark contrast from that June-August period, which was the record wettest June-August period on record, the September-November period came in below average. In fact, this year’s September-November period in Georgia ranked as the 24th driest period on record. The pattern simply changed, and except for some days here and there, precipitation was hard to come by.

Precipitation totals compared to average for Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon. Image Credit: NOAA.
Precipitation totals compared to average for Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon. Image Credit: NOAA.

Athens only recorded 6.11 inches of rain during the months of September-November (2.42 inches in September, 1.27 inches in October, and 2.42 inches in November), well below the average of 11.31 inches normally seen. This ended up being the 32nd driest September-November period on record in Athens. However, it was nowhere close to the record driest 2.58 inches recorded in 1931! Atlanta and Macon had similar dry periods, coming in at the 45th driest and 31st driest, respectively. Columbus was extremely dry, only recording 3.41 inches of rainfall during September-November making it the 3rd driest September-November period on record.

Rainfall Notables:

  • Atlanta recorded 2.13 inches of rain on October 6th breaking the old record of 1.80 inches in 1922.
  • 1.95 inches of rain fell in Macon on November 26th breaking the previous record of 1.16 inches in 1992.
  • West and North Central Georgia experienced a glancing blow of wintry weather on November 27th which led Atlanta to break its all-time snowfall record for this date with .4 inches recorded.
Precipitation Extremes for September-November 2013. Image Credit: NOAA.
Precipitation Extremes for September-November 2013. Image Credit: NOAA.

Both Athens and Macon received their highest daily amount of rain on November 26th. For Macon, a record was broken, but not so for Athens. Columbus’ extreme rainfall amount for September-November was only 0.94 inches. Back in August, Columbus recorded a record daily rainfall total of 5.73 inches on August 16th. What a difference a month makes!

Drought Monitor:

Abnormally Dry conditions have appeared across parts of Georgia. Image Credit: NOAA.
Abnormally Dry conditions have appeared across parts of Georgia. Image Credit: NOAA.

With Georgia’s 24th driest September-November period on record has come the onset of abnormally dry conditions across a good part of the state. These conditions are the least intense type of drought conditions. Three months ago, though, the entire state was 100% drought free. This is nothing to be too worried about yet, but winter is the season where most of river and lake basins in Georgia are charged up for spring and summer. If our winter is as dry as the fall, some concerns may start to appear.

Temperature:

September-November Temperature Ranks. Image Credit: NOAA.
September-November Temperature Ranks. Image Credit: NOAA.

With all the rain over the summer, Georgia saw below average temperatures with its 20th coolest summer period on record. During September-November, though, Georgia recorded near normal temperatures. Depending on how you look at it, fall ended up being the 47th coolest or warmest period on record. To put it in simpler terms, on a state-wide level, there really was no extreme either way. However, cities like Athens and Macon did record cooler than average September-November periods while Atlanta and Columbus were warmer than average.

Seasonal Average Temperature Rankings. Image Credit: NOAA.
Seasonal Average Temperature Rankings. Image Credit: NOAA.

Athens’ average temperature during the September-November time period was 62.1°F. September and October were both fairly warm in Athens with average temperatures of 73.2°F and 63.4°F, respectively. November, however, saw an average temperature of only 49.8°F, which was nearly 4 degrees below average for the month. Overall, Athens’ September-November average temperature of 62.1°F ranked as the 25th coolest September-November period on record. Macon had a similar September-November period with an average temperature of 63.9°F, good enough for the 20th coolest fall on record. Atlanta and Columbus however recorded near average temperatures, with Columbus a tad warmer than average and Atlanta a bit below average.

Temperature Notables:

  • On November 13th, Athens broke a record low minimum temperature record with a low of 23°F. This broke the record of 24° in 1911.
  • Macon also tied a record low minimum temperature on November 13th of 27°F (1987)
  • On the next day, Athens again broke the record low minimum temperature of 25° (1969) with a low temperature of 23°F.
  • Macon then broke its record low temperature of 25°F (1968) on the same day with a low temperature of 21°F.
  • On November 28th, Macon again broke its record low minimum temperature of 22°F (1938) with a low temperature of 21°F.
  • Macon broke its high temperature of 83°F (2003) on November 18th with a high temperature of 85°F.
Temperature Extremes during September-November. Image Credit: NOAA.
Temperature Extremes during September-November. Image Credit: NOAA.

90+ degrees was common at the beginning of September, but by November’s end, low to mid 20s had enveloped much of Georgia. Athens recorded its warmest temperature of September-November on September 8th with 91°F. On November 28th, Athens was experiencing a chill with its coldest temperature of 22°F.

Winter In Athens, so far…: 

Preliminary December weather for Athens, so far...
Preliminary December weather for Athens, so far…

So far, winter in Athens has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. December began with near seasonable temperatures but then quickly warmed well above average with temperatures in the 70s for three straight days. Since then, we have slowly dropped down to near seasonable temperatures.  Remember that when we talk about climate, we’re summarizing the overall personality of a time period. Even though we’ve seen 70+ degrees in December, it doesn’t mean it will automatically be a warm winter. You can think of a climate as a person’s personality with every day weather being a person’s mood.

Fall 2013 Bottom Line:

Picture of the UGA campus in front of the Geography/Geology building earlier this week. Image Credit: Matt Daniel
Picture of the UGA campus in front of the Geography/Geology building earlier this week. Image Credit: Matt Daniel

The bottom line for fall in Georgia is that a majority of locations were slightly cooler than average while also being 3 to 5 inches drier than average. This resulted in 47th coolest September-November period on record as well as the 24th driest September-November period on record. Since we had a drier than average fall, abnormally dry conditions started to appear across much of the state. I look forward to March 2014 when we can look back and review the winter season in Georgia. I’m hoping we’ll see some snow!

 

 

 

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