Middle Georgia expects typical summer showers; below normal Hurricane Season

As Ken Trimmins and the Quiet Storm was setting up outside the Douglass Theatre, folks were keeping an eye to Sunday evening’s sky.

As the day’s white clouds blossomed to gray and winds whipped up, featured singer Sherri Wilder repeatedly sang this plea: “We’re going to pray that the rain just rolls away.”

Although the Jazz in the Courtyard series was intended for outdoors, the annex is always on standby in case of rain.

The National Weather Service forecast called for 40 percent of Middle Georgia to see a shower or thunderstorm by nightfall.

As meteorologists and climatologists gaze toward summer, the Douglass would be wise to always have the annex ready for the next two concerts June 28 and July 26.

A moderate El Niño pattern promises to bring the typical summertime pattern of stray afternoon and evening thunderstorms that have plagued other outdoor seasonal traditions, such as the Independence Celebration in Warner Robins.

“The good news is that it keeps the severe drought away,” Bill Murphey, Georgia climatologist, said. “A lot of times that Gulf moisture can get cut off and lead to drought conditions.”

Portions of north Georgia and counties closer to the Florida border are experiencing some abnormally dry conditions, according to the latest Drought Monitor from May 26.

Two-thirds of the state, right across the middle of Georgia, shows no sign of drought.

“It’s almost like a tale of two halves, who is getting the rain and who is not,” Murphey said.

A patch of moderate drought affects Atkinson, Lanier, Clinch, Cook, Lowndes, Echols, Ware and Berrian counties. “There’s been some peanut crop impacts, some agricultural impacts,” Murphey said. “It’s really tough on the peanut crop because the soil has gotten dry and cracked.”

By contrast, Macon’s wet April was 3.31 inches above normal.

For May, with only 1.15 inches of rain at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport through Saturday, the month was expected to close about an inch and a half below normal rainfall.

But a late evening thunderstorm could reduce the final deficit, which won’t be officially calculated until at least Monday.

Although the midstate should see regular chances of showers, Murphey is not ruling out a dry July and August when ground moisture can quickly evaporate.

At the beginning of climatological summer of June, July and August, Middle Georgia is blessed with added moisture in the air and continued chances of rain this week.

The three-month outlook calls for a slightly greater probability for above normal precipitation for the southern third of the state.

The northern two-thirds, which includes Middle Georgia, has an equal chance of normal rainfall as it does above or below normal.

The El Niño pattern that provides moisture for the chance of showers, can also shear the tops off developing tropical systems.

“That usually bodes not too well for tropical storm development in the Atlantic Basin,” Murphey said. “Westerlies are typically stronger and you have shear that suppresses tropical storm formation.”

The National Hurricane Center’s Outlook for 2015 calls for slightly below normal activity with a 70 percent chance of six to 11 named storms.

There is a 20 percent chance of a near normal season and a 10 percent chance of an above normal season.

“But that doesn’t matter when you’re talking one major hurricane that could make a big impact,” Murphey said.

Just as it would be unwise not to grab an umbrella going to an outdoor summer concert, Murphey warns Georgians not to forget to prepare for hurricane season.

A major storm hitting the Florida panhandle or south Atlantic coastline could track through Middle Georgia, spawning tornadoes or thunderstorms that could result in days worth of power outages.

“You never want to let your guard down, especially in these kinds of patterns and swings.”

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.