Want a depressing thought as Macon heads into summer Tuesday?
Were already coming out of the warmest spring on record.
State climatologist David Stooksbury of the University of Georgia said Monday that in the 63 years of data he has at his disposal, the average high temperatures in the spring of 2011 soared higher in Macon than in any other year.
For the past three months, from March 21 to June 20, its the highest temperature on record, he said.
During that period, the average high in Macon was 85.9 degrees. Through Monday, this Junes average high was 97.5 degrees, Stooksbury said.
Its the warmest June 1st to 20th on record, he said.
But there may be a bit of relief on the way for the heat-weary midstate.
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City are predicting a fairly good chance of some much-needed rain this week, with a 50 percent chance on Thursday and a 40 percent chance Friday.
Even so, experts say drought conditions in the state likely will continue through August. Any rain that falls this week will have little impact in making up the deficit, meteorologists said.
Stooksbury said Macon has received just 63 percent of its normal rainfall in the first half of 2011. Usually, Macon should have about 24 inches of rain by now; instead, its only seen a little more than 15 inches.
And the drought has worsened over the past month or two, Stooksbury said.
Over the last 30 days, Macon has only gotten 48 percent of its normal rainfall, he said. Over the past 60 days, youve only gotten about 44 percent.
Over the past 30 days, that translates to 1.58 inches of rain, compared to the 3.26 inches the midstate normally gets.
You can expect a drier-than-normal summer through August, Stooksbury said. If the forecast is wrong and you have near-normal rain, the soil is still going to dry out. ... The drought is expected to continue.
Meanwhile, the weather is decidedly hot.
Macon reached a high of 96 on Monday, the 31st consecutive day the citys high temperature hit 90 or above. The last time the high was below 90 was May 19, when the mercury hit 85 degrees, according to data from the National Weather Service.
As those who live in huge swaths of south Georgia can attest, the heat and dryness substantially increase the risk of fires. Macon-Bibb County Assistant Fire Chief Cliff Rushin said, so far, the department has only had to deal with a few grass fires.
Were certainly at a higher risk, he said. Anytime theres a drought situation, theres some risk.
Rushin said the department is urging everyone to be more careful.
Even though there is a burn ban in Bibb County, Rushin said people are still having outdoor barbecues and starting campfires during the summer.
Its important that they be mindful when they use open flames, he said. Dont extinguish your cigarettes in the grass. Use an ashtray instead. Were at some risk for fire. Right now, were hoping (the wildfires stay) well south of us. ... The main thing is just awareness. Were ripe for fires to spark. People need to be mindful of being careful when they are grilling out or whatever they might be doing.
In addition to the fire risks, Rushin said the department has answered some calls related to people suffering from heat stroke or heat exhaustion.
Weve had some medically-related cases the past few weeks, he said.
He urges people to stay hydrated and keep out of the hot weather when possible.
Stooksbury said that as of now, the midstates best hope on making up the rainfall deficit would begin in August, during the peak of tropical storm season.
In mid-August, thats when the tropics get more active and were going to get much-needed rainfall, he said. Much of the late summer rainfall comes from the tropics.
Until then, though, expect more of this years long, hot summer that unofficially began long before Tuesday.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.