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2013 was third-wettest in Georgia history

Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 8:19 AM
Last updated 7:57 PM
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With 65 inches of rain observed statewide, conditions in Georgia were much wetter than usual in 2013. The state received its third-largest annual precipitation since state records began in 1895.

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Wet streets were familiar scenes in Augusta last summer.  SARA CALDWELL/FILE
SARA CALDWELL/FILE
Wet streets were familiar scenes in Augusta last summer.

Rainfall in 2013 was almost 15 inches above the annual average calculated between 1901 and 2000. The heavy precipitation helped Georgia continue a two-decade record of years with highly variable rainfall and ended the third major drought Georgia has experienced since 1998.

Though Georgia’s farmers usually welcome the rain, this year was so cloudy that the lack of sunshine delayed the development of some key crops. Conversely, the wet and cool spring and summer helped consumers enjoy lower utility bills.

Last year’s wet weather began in January and February when a strong and persistent band of rain moved into the state from north to south. It helped smash the old state record for February precipitation. February 2013 saw a state average of 9.92 inches, surpassing the old record of 8.73 inches set in 1939 by more than 10 percent.

The wet pattern seen in February continued into the spring and summer, contributing to cool and cloudy conditions through most of the growing season.

Atlanta received 66.02 inches, 16.31 inches above normal; Athens received 59.89 inches, 13.56 above normal; Augusta received 55.52 inches, 11.95 above normal; and Brunswick received 52.05 inches, 7.05 above normal.

Last spring was the sixth-coldest spring since 1895 and the coldest since 2005. It was especially noticeable after the record-setting spring of 2012, which was 7 degrees warmer than 2013’s. Cooler than normal conditions continued through summer, but the pattern reversed in the fall, when warm and dry conditions covered most of the state.

The year ended slightly cooler than the long-term average. The end of the year was marked by the lack of strong El Nino or La Nina conditions in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Those neutral conditions helped set up wide swings in weather conditions in early winter and are continuing into 2014.

January 2013 saw unusual weather patterns with a prolonged period of warmer-than-normal conditions in the middle of the month. The state average temperature was the warmest it has been since 1974. It was only the second time since 1960 that the state average temperature for January surpassed 52 degrees.

Other notable weather patterns in 2013 were the absence of heat waves during the summer and the unusual cold snap in mid-August that brought October-like temperatures to much of the state for several days. A cold snap also occurred near Thanksgiving across north Georgia, leading to temperatures as low as 13 degrees near Elberton. Some snow was reported near Atlanta and in northern counties on Nov. 27. This is only the third time since records began that Atlanta received measurable snow in November. Daily low temperature records were set at many locations on the mornings of Nov. 14, 27 and 28.

Those record lows were followed by a December marked by a warm flow moving in from the south, which brought record-setting high day and nighttime temperatures to many areas of the state.

In 2014, Georgians can expect more highly variable weather conditions through the rest of the winter and into the spring, because of the lack of an El Nino or La Nina.

This means that Georgia is likely to go through periods of relative warmth and significant cold spells for the next few months. That increases the likelihood of a snow or ice storm in the next two to three months, particularly in north Georgia. It also increases the likelihood of a late frost.


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