An early April day looking outside of the Geography/Geology Building on the University of Georgia campus. Image Credit: Chris Davis, 2014.
An early April day looking outside of the Geography/Geology Building on the University of Georgia campus. Image Credit: Chris Davis, 2014.
An early April day looking outside of the Geography/Geology Building on the University of Georgia campus. Image Credit: Chris Davis, 2014.

Since meteorological summer began on June 1st, it’s time to take a look back and see how North Georgia and the Athens area fared during the spring months of March, April, and May. As we exited the winter months, Athens had seen slightly above normal rainfall, slightly below normal temperatures, and even its own share of wintry weather. Below, we’ll take a look at temperature, precipitation (rainfall), and any extreme values that occurred during the spring. Did we hit 90°F this spring? Let’s find out!

Rainfall/Precipitation:

The Southeast US checked in with above average wet conditions. Image Credit: NOAA.
The Southeast US checked in with above average wet conditions. Image Credit: NOAA.

Precipitation wise, there were many extremes in the United States during the 2014 March – May period. For starters, the Central Plains states of Oklahoma and Kansas experienced one of their driest March – May periods on record. They have since received some beneficial rain. In Florida and Washington, near record wet conditions were seen during March – May. As a whole, the southeastern U.S., northwestern U.S., and Great Lakes region saw above average precipitation. Georgia checked in with its 24th wettest (120 – 96 = 24) March – May period on record. As we’ll see below, April was a very wet month for Georgia. April definitely helped push Georgia into a solidly above average precipitation ranking.

Spring precipitation totals compared to average in Athens, Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.
Spring precipitation totals compared to average in Athens, Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.

For the most part, Athens, Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus recorded a wetter than normal spring period. Athens recorded exactly 11 inches of rainfall, good enough for its 80th wettest March-May, which put it only .42 inches above normal. Atlanta didn’t fare as well. It only recorded 11.31 inches which was .53 below average. That made it the 54th driest March-May period in Atlanta. For Columbus and Macon, rainfall surpluses of greater than 4 inches were recorded. Columbus had its 16th wettest spring on record while Macon had its 33rd wettest spring. However, this graphic only tells half the tale. It makes it seem like the March, April, and May saw near normal rainfall, and that isn’t the case.

May 2014 rainfall across Georgia. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.
May 2014 departure from normal rainfall across Georgia. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.

March was a pretty dry month for much of Georgia. Athens only recorded 3.37 inches of rainfall, more than an inch below the normal rainfall amount of 4.43 inches. March 2014 was Athens’ 40th driest March on record. Atlanta had a similar March, recording its 28th driest March on record. Macon was nearly a half inch of rainfall below it’s normal amount in March while Columbus was near normal. April was a different story. Above average rainfall was recorded in Athens, Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus. Athens was 1.02 inches above normal and recorded its 50th wettest April. Columbus and Macon were both 4.50 inches+ above normal in April. They checked in with their 4th and 6th wettest Aprils on recored, respectively. May, as you can see above, was pretty hit or miss around the state. Athens, for instance, recorded 3.46 inches of rainfall, which was 0.46 above normal, good enough for its 65th wettest May. Atlanta, on the other hand, only recorded 2.29 inches of rainfall which was 1.38 inches below average, which made it the 42nd driest May on record.

Rainfall Notables:

  • Atlanta broke its daily rainfall record on April 7, 2014. The 2.46 inches recorded broke the record of 2.38 inches set in 1973.
Precipitation extremes for  March - May 2014 for Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.
Precipitation extremes for March – May 2014 for Athens, Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.

Both Atlanta and Athens saw their highest daily rainfall amounts on April 7, 2014. These high rainfall amounts resulted from a strong area of low pressure that caused some severe thunderstorms and flooding in North Georgia. Macon and Columbus saw their highest daily rainfall amounts on the same day as well due to an area of low pressure form the Gulf of Mexico moving northeast into south Georgia. You can see why April was an above average precipitation month all around. It’s not too hard to exceed your average monthly total when you get more than half of it in a single day!

Drought?

The latest drought monitor for Georgia shows good news! Image Credit: NOAA.
The latest drought monitor for Georgia shows good news! Image Credit: NOAA.

When I wrote the 2013-2014 winter wrap up post, I noted that 6.52% of state were in Abnormally Dry conditions. These areas were the northeast Georgia mountains, a tiny section of west Georgia, and a tiny area just north of Valdosta. I remarked that if April ended being a dry month, we may have to worry about drought conditions increasing. Well, as we saw above, April was pretty wet, and that’s kept the majority of the state out of drought conditions. Only a tiny section in the northwest corner of state, 1.25% of the entire state, is recording Abnormally Dry conditions. It doesn’t look like we have much to worry about unless the rest of summer is drier than average.

Temperature:

Cool in the east and warm in the west was the March to May trend in the US. Image Credit: NOAA.
Cool in the east and warm in the west was the March to May trend in the US. Image Credit: NOAA.

Looking at the statewide temperature rankings for the March – May 2014 period, two extremes really jump out at you. In the western United States, above average to much above average temperatures were recorded. California and Oregon were close to their record warmest March – May periods. In the Midwest and eastern United States, near average to below average temperatures were seen during March – May 2014. Louisiana and Wisconsin were each close to their coldest March – May periods on record. Georgia came in with its 33rd coolest March – May period. This jives well with what we’re going to see below as we break down temperatures for each month in Atlanta, Athens, Columbus, and Macon.

Seasonal Average Temperature rankings for Atlanta, Athens, Columbus, and Macon. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.
Seasonal Average Temperature rankings for Atlanta, Athens, Columbus, and Macon. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.

All in all, Atlanta, Athens, Columbus, and Macon saw near average temperatures for the March – May time frame. Athens recorded an average temperature of 61.6°F, just 0.1 degrees below the normal temperature of 61.7°F, which made it the 45th “coolest” spring on record. Atlanta was the opposite of Athens, recording an average temperature of 62.1ºF and coming in just 0.1 degrees above normal. It was their 51st “warmest” spring on record. Both Macon and Columbus were slightly cooler than average, recording their 14th and 24th coolest spring on record. Remember that these values are determined by averaging each day’s high and low temperature during March through May, then summing those values up for the entire period, and taking the average. A high temperature in the low 60s in May for Athens would be very below average!

March saw below average temperatures across the board in 2014. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.
March saw below average temperatures across the board in 2014. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.

While April and May were either slightly above or below average for Atlanta, Athens, Macon, and Columbus, March was significantly cooler than average across the board. Winter kept a pretty strong hold on much of country through March. With a persistent ridge in the western United States and a deep trough in the eastern United States, shots of cool air kept on surging southward throughout the month. Athens’ average temperature in March was 51.5°F, which was 2.8 degrees below average. This made it the 33rd coolest March on record in Athens. Atlanta and Columbus were similarly cooler than average. Macon, however, recorded an average March temperature of 52.8°F, which was 4.0 degrees below normal! This gave Macon is 14th coolest March on record.

Temperature Notables:

  • Macon set a low minimum temperature record of 26°F on 3/26 (old record: 28°F in 2006), tied a low minimum temperature of 33°F on 4/16 (33°F in 2008), and tied a low minimum temperature of 43°F on 5/17 (43°F in 1967).
Temperature extremes during March - May 2014. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.
Temperature extremes during March – May 2014. Image Credit: Peachtree City NWS.

For the most part, the date of the warmest and coldest temperatures recorded for Atlanta, Athens, Columbus, and Macon were the same. Athens and Macon reached 92°F and 93°F, respectively, on May 23rd, while Atlanta and Columbus hit 90°F and 93°F, respectively, on May 25th. Athens recorded a low of 28°F on March 14th and again on March 26th. Atlanta (29°F), Columbus (31°F), and Macon (26°F) all recorded their lowest temperatures of the spring on March 26th.

Number of 90ºF Days in May:

Number of 90ºF days in May 2014. Image Credit: Chris Davis.
Number of 90ºF days in May 2014. Image Credit: Chris Davis.

Usually, we look at the number of 90°F days in the summer to gauge its severity. We don’t usually do that in spring, but I thought it’d be neat to see how many 90°F days each reporting site had recorded in the spring. No site hit 90°F in March and April, but in May, each site hit 90°F at least once. Atlanta only hit 90°F one time, on May 25th. Columbus had 4 90°F days. Athens checked in with 6 90°F days, and Macon came out on top with 7 90°F days. It’ll be interesting if the 90°F degree temperature trend continues for the rest of summer.

Summer So Far in Athens:

June 2014 so far in Athens, Georgia. Image Credit: NOAA.
June 2014 so far in Athens, Georgia. Image Credit: NOAA.

So far, June has been a tad above average in regards to temperature, and precipitation has been around normal for halfway through the month. Athens’ 1981-2010 average precipitation for June is 4.18 inches, with 2.06 inches already recorded in 2014. So far in June, we’ve seen seven 90°F days (counting June 15th which is not on this image).

Spring 2014 Bottom Line:

Flowers blooming in front of Geography/Geology in early spring 2014. Image Credit: Jared Rackley, 2014.
Flowers blooming in front of Geography/Geology in early spring 2014. Image Credit: Jared Rackley, 2014.

The bottom line for spring 2014 in Georgia is that temperatures were near normal to slightly cooler than normal with a significantly cooler March. Precipitation was near normal to slightly above average with the bulk of the rainfall falling in April. March was the driest month for a majority of the state with May varying in wet and dry conditions around the state. With meteorological summer just beginning, it’ll be time to review the next season before you know it. I asked in my winter 2013-2014 wrap-up if you thought we’d hit 90°F before June 1st. Well, every location hit the 90°F mark before summer arrived. So, the new questions is, do you think we’ll hit 100°F at any point this summer? We’ll let you know when we do the summer 2014 recap! In the meantime, have a great time this summer wherever life takes you! 

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Chris graduated from the University of Georgia in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Geography and a certificate in Atmospheric Sciences. Currently, Chris attends Kennesaw State University where he is pursuing a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems. Chris has competed in WxChallenge, the North American weather forecasting competition, as both a student at UGA and an Alumnus. Chris has finished within the top 280 forecasters four times. Outside of forecasting and meteorology, Chris is a former member of the University of Georgia Redcoat Marching Band. He is also an Alumnus of UGA's Kappa Mu Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi, National Honorary Band Service Fraternity. Chris loves all kinds of weather but reserves special enthusiasm for tropical and winter weather! He also a member of the American Meteorological Society.

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