One year ago, Augusta was sweating through record-breaking heat and persistent drought. The thermometer at Augusta Regional Airport hit triple-digit numbers on July 24, 2012, for the seventh time in four weeks.
What a difference a year makes.
So far this year, temperatures haven’t broken the 100-degree mark during what has been one of Augusta’s wettest and mildest summers ever.
Last month was the wettest June on record in Augusta (10.83 inches). More rainfall in July (7.22 inches) and overcast skies have kept temperatures below normal.
The daily high has averaged 87.3 degrees, 8.7 degrees below the average maximum temperature in July 2012 – the hottest month ever in the contiguous United States.
“When you look at the past few summers, it certainly makes this summer stand out even more,” said Nyasha Dunkley, Georgia’s deputy state climatologist. “But when you look at a long period of time, it might not stand out as much.”
Lots of tropical moisture combined with a strong ridge of high pressure and a trough to the west combined to create wetter, cooler weather than average, she said.
“There’s nothing specific you can pinpoint,” she said. “It could change once again next year. It just varies.”
In 2012, a strong upper-level ridge created a sweltering heat wave during the last week of June and first week of July. On June 29 and 30, record-breaking temperatures measured 106 degrees.
July 2012 saw six days higher than 100 degrees, topping off at 104 on July 1. The highest temperature so far this month in Augusta is 95 degrees on July 17.
While Georgia isn’t experiencing drought conditions now, 78 percent of the state was desperate for rain one year ago. Augusta’s drought conditions ranged from severe to exceptional throughout the summer.
Rainfall in June and July 2012 were far below normal but that changed in August, the second-wettest August on record and the fifth-wettest month ever for Augusta.
Precipitation measured 12.28 inches, 7.96 inches above normal. The rain and clouds kept temperatures below normal, peaking at 95 degrees.
The big differences between a hot, dry summer followed by milder, wet weather don’t indicate much about long-term weather trends, Dunkley said.
A three-month weather outlook predicts above normal chances of precipitation through October, she said. Rain will keep falling but amounts will depend on whether hurricanes bring precipitation to the area.