Sunday, February 5, 2023

September was unusually hot and dry in Georgia, causing some crop issues

september 2019 georgia temperaturesWhile it seems Georgia is finally seeing a break from the summer heat, the long hot summer, including a record-setting September, has already caused problems for many Georgia farmers.

With almost no rain during September, drought conditions expanded across the state.

Record-setting temperatures and almost no rain during September caused a major expansion of drought across Georgia. The dry conditions caused problems for farmers trying to grow forage and harvest peanuts in heavier soils, but the harvest was ahead of schedule due to the lack of rain.

At the beginning of the month, only 7 % of the state’s area was in moderate drought and 27 % was abnormally dry or in drought. By the end of the month, the entire state was at least abnormally dry, and extreme drought covered over 4 % of the state, mostly in areas north and south of the Atlanta metro area.

Dryness causes problems

The dry conditions in September caused a lot of problems for farmers. Forage stopped growing and feeding hay to livestock was widespread. Filling of soybean pods was reduced with a negative impact on yields, and it was too dry to defoliate some cotton and harvest some dryland peanuts. However, in areas where harvest was possible, dry and clear weather allowed harvests to proceed ahead of schedule for both cotton and peanuts.

While October saw a break from record high heat across the state, climatologists project that temperatures will continue to be warmer than normal throughout fall. The state should see less rainfall than normal during October but may return to normal patterns later this fall.

A return to normal would be welcome after such a dry summer and September when the majority of the state received less than a quarter of their normal monthly rainfall.

The highest monthly total precipitation recorded by the National Weather Service reporting stations was 2.76 inches in Brunswick, 3 inches below normal. The lowest temperatures were in Macon and Valdosta, with 0.02 inches each, 3.57 inches below normal for Macon and 4.62 inches below normal for Valdosta.

The highest 24-hour rainfall total from Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network observers in September was 4.50 inches observed east of Newnan in Coweta County, Sept. 29, followed by 4.45 inches measured south of Savannah in Chatham County, Sept. 18, from Humberto. The highest monthly amount was 6.51 inches measured by the observer south of Savannah in Chatham County, followed by 6.32 inches measured near Darien in McIntosh County.

How hot was it?

While rainfall was far below normal, temperatures were above normal across the state in September.

→ In Albany, the monthly average temperature was 82.9 degrees Fahrenheit, 5.2 degrees above normal.
→ In Alma, the monthly average temperature was 79.7 F, 2.6 degrees above normal.
→ In Athens, the monthly average temperature was 79.3 degrees F, 6 degrees above normal.
→ In Atlanta, the monthly average temperature was 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 8.9 degrees above normal.
→ In Augusta, the monthly average temperature was 80.2 F, 5.6 degrees above normal.
→ In Brunswick, the monthly average temperature was 82.5 F, 4.4 degrees above normal.
→ In Columbus, the monthly average temperature was 83.3 F, 6.7 degrees above normal.
→ In Macon, the monthly average temperature was 81.1 F, 6.1 degrees above normal.
→ In Rome, the monthly average temperature was 80 F, 6 degrees above normal.
→ In Savannah, the monthly average temperature was 81.4 F, 4.4 degrees above normal.
→ In Valdosta, the monthly average temperature was 81.5 F, 4.1 degrees above normal.

Many high-temperature records were broken or tied during September, including Brunswick, which reported a new high nighttime low temperature of 79 F, Sept. 27 (breaking the old record of 76 F set in 1998).

The University of Georgia contributed this article.

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