What is in this article?:
- Georgia summer expected to be hotter, drier
- More difficult for thunderstorms to form
• An additional indicator is the current drought. Even with normal temperatures and rain during the summer, Georgia soils continue to dry, and stream flows drop.
• Even if Georgia receives normal rain this summer, the drought is expected to continue.
More difficult for thunderstorms to form
During the summer, much of the rain that Georgia receives is from scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms. With local soil moisture low, there is less moisture available locally for the development of these afternoon or evening storms. The lack of moisture locally argues for a drier-than-normal summer.
During droughts, it is common for a region to experience “sinking air” from higher up in the atmosphere. This makes it difficult for scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms to develop. Sinking air also compresses and warms. This is another example of how temperature and drought reinforce each other.
The summer outlook for the mountain counties is more uncertain. The mountains have received more rain than southern Georgia. The mountain counties are on a dividing line between a region to the south expecting a warmer and drier summer and a region to the north expecting a cooler and wetter-than-normal summer. The mountain counties will probably experience a warmer and drier-than-normal summer, but the confidence of this outlook is low.
By the middle of August, the tropics are usually becoming very active. Much of Georgia’s late summer and fall rains come from tropical weather systems such as tropical storms or hurricanes.
This hurricane season is expected to be more active than normal. Unfortunately, atmospheric scientists do not have the ability to forecast how many of the storms will make landfall. An active hurricane season gives us no guidance on the chances of Georgia experiencing tropical weather.
If Georgia receives tropical weather, widespread temporary drought relief can occur. If the tropical activity occurs earlier than typical, then warmer and drier-than-normal weather could end earlier than expected this summer. If Georgia doesn’t receive tropical weather this summer, then the current drought will persist into fall.
(David Stooksbury is the state climatologist, a professor of engineering and graduate coordinator for atmospheric sciences in the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)