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Climate Science: What a Difference a Week Makes in Athens

By David Emory Stooksbury

13 June 2019

A week ago, the Athens area was classified as abnormally dry and was on the brink of a

moderate drought according to the U.S. Drought Monitor for 4 June. Now Athens-Clarke

county is drought free thanks to copious rainfall over the past weekend. However, the area

south and east of Oglethorpe and extreme southern Oconee counties, inclusive, are still

classified as abnormally dry according the 11 June Drought Monitor. Much of the Georgia

coastal plain is still classified as in moderate to severe drought. The Georgia specific U.S.

Drought Monitor maps for June 4 and June 11 are below.

The Drought Monitor maps show general improvement over much of Georgia between 4 June and 11 June. The improvement is most noteworthy in the northern half of the state and the lower Savannah river valley. The drought intensified over the past week in south central

Georgia. How wet was Athens this past weekend? Athens received 3.61 inches of rain at Ben Epps Field on Saturday 8 June. This was a daily record for Ben Epps where the record begins in June 1944.

For the two days, Friday/Saturday (7/8 June), 5.09 inches of rain was received at Ben Epps

which set the record for the most rain received on 7/8 June. Over the past week, Friday 7 June through Thursday 13 June, Athens has received 6.15 inches of rain. This is the wettest 7 though 13 June for the Ben Epps record. As for the first 13 days of June, Athens has received 6.18 inches of rain. This means that the first 13 days of June 2019 is ranked third wettest. The wettest first 13 days of June for Athens was 1967 when Athens received 10.93 inches of rain. The second wettest was 2013 when Athens received 6.29 inches of rain. There have been four years in which no rain was record for the first 13 days of June in Athens, 1945, 1963, 1980, and 1984.

After a very warm late May and early June, Athens has experienced much cooler temperatures over the past week. This past week , June 7 through 13 was the 2nd coolest for the period based on the average high temperature which was 7.2 o F below normal. The coolest June 7 through 13 average high temperature was recorded in 1997. The average low temperature was actually the 23 rd warmest at 1.8 o F above normal.

For the period June 1 through 13, 2019 comes in as the 18 th coldest average high temperature at 3.2 o F below normal but the 9 th warmest low temperatures at 2.6 o F above normal. Over the past week and the month to date, the average high temperature was below normal while the average low temperature was above normal. Night time temperatures being relative warmer than the daytime temperatures is consistent with human caused global warming or climate change.

The data at Athens’s Ben Epps Field starts on 1 June 1944. The data analysis is courtesy of

NOAA’s Southeast Regional Climate Center located at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

David Emory Stooksbury is on the engineering and atmospheric sciences faculties at the University of Georgia. He is chair of the Commission on Environmental Stewardship for the Episcopal Dioceses of Atlanta. While a student at UGA, he majored in plant genetics (B.S.A.), physics and astronomy (B.S.P.A.) and agronomy (M.S.). He completed additional graduate work in applied statistics (M.A.S. Penn State) and environmental sciences (Ph.D. Virginia)

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