Unusual weather pattern keeps Macon cool and wet

lfabian@macon.comJuly 31, 2013 

Usually by August, weather forecasts begin to sound like an mp3 player stuck on replay.

“Partly cloudy with a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms” is the typical weather headline for Middle Georgia heading into August.

And there’s usually plenty of stifling heat, with afternoon temperatures soaring into the high 90s or even passing the century mark.

But not this year.

“It’s wet. It’s cool. It’s certainly been an interesting summer,” said Trisha Palmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.

More rainfall and lower mercury in the thermometer has been a nice change of pace for Chris Moore, owner of Chris Moore Roofing in Macon.

“Usually we knock off around noon,” he said of his crews’ schedule in previous years. “Now we go until 3.”

Working longer hours, he said, has resulted in bigger paychecks. And the abundance of rain has drummed up more business.

“If roofs aren’t leaking, (people are not) going to replace it,” Moore said. “They’ll just keep putting it off.”

This year, though, “we’re just smiling,” he said.

It’s a completely different story at Vesterfield Farms in Cochran.

“The weather this year really messed up our crops,” said Kaye Smith, the farm’s owner, who was selling vegetables Wednesday at the farmers market in Macon.

“We had a lot of rain and we couldn’t get in to plant because it’s been wet,” she said.

The final day of July’s rain and overcast skies punctuated a precipitation-heavy month that already recorded 12.25 inches of rain through Tuesday. That’s more than 8 inches above normal.

“All-day rain with temperatures hardly reaching 80 degrees in the end of July, that is highly unusual,” Palmer said.

From Jan. 1 through Tuesday, Macon received 46.81 inches of rain, or 19.12 inches above the normal 27.69 inches for that time period.

During last year’s drought, the city picked up just 19.42 inches of rain during the first seven months of the year.

And temperatures sizzled to record highs in 2012.

Last year, Macon tied its all-time record high of 108 degrees on back-to-back days: June 30 and July 1.

Also last year, the city crept over the century mark with 106 degrees on June 29 and hit 100 degrees July 25.

This year, though, the mercury has yet to reach 95 degrees, topping out at 94 degrees on June 12, June 28 and July 17.

The average high for June 2013 was 87.8 degrees, down 2.1 degrees from June 2012.

In July 2012, the average high was 94.4 degrees compared with July 2013’s average high of 88.6 through Tuesday.

Bill Murphey, Georgia’s climatologist, noted Macon’s average temperature of 64.6 degrees over the last six months is the city’s coolest in 121 years of record keeping.

The Climate Prediction Center shows August is expected to bring about a 40 percent chance of above normal rain, but an equal chance of either above or below normal temperatures.

The above-average precipitation model is expected to linger through October, Murphey said.

“The tropical season becomes more active in August and September, not just from a hurricane or tropical storm, but from tropical moisture,” he said.

Both Palmer and Murphey expect the first week of August to be wet.

While it might be a little drier this weekend, another inch and a half or more of rain is predicted for Macon.

Murphey foresees the same active trough pattern in late summer, but with slightly drier air.

“Rainfall will likely go to a more normal summertime pattern as opposed to what we had before, with slugs of moisture coming up from the Gulf of Mexico,” he said. “Toward the end of next week we’ll warm up, not brutally hot, but a little more normal as the trough flattens out.”

Staff writer Harold Goodridge contributed to this report. To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.

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