Originally created 08/04/98

Cooling off



Are you dried out yet?

The weekend brought cool breezes and a break from grindingly hot temperatures to Augusta and the rest of Georgia, but area residents should enjoy the low humidity while they can, weather forecasters warned.

Temperatures should hover around 90 throughout the week, and Monday -- with humidity at only about 30 percent -- was the driest day in almost a month and a half. But the moisture in the air will begin to slowly creep back up, said Al Moore, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in West Columbia, S.C.

"The rest of the week, there's going to be a low pressure system keeping temperatures close to normal. But the winds will gradually become more southerly, which will bring up more moisture," Mr. Moore said.

Yes, he said temperatures near normal -- highs for this time of year are usually about 91 degrees. Temperatures on Saturday hit 89 degrees and they hovered around 87 on Sunday. By Monday afternoon, they reached 89 degrees.

"We're on a streak of slightly below-normal temperatures, but we're not near a record low," Mr. Moore said. "Because of all that very hot weather for the past five or six weeks, it just feels like it's very different."

Augusta residents spent the weekend and Monday outside enjoying the weather, venturing from their air-conditioned homes and stepping away from electric fans to paddle in swimming pools, lay out in the sun, take their children to playgrounds and zip around on bicycles.

The unexpected break in local weather stood in sharp contrast to other areas of the country -- such as Texas, where triple-digit temperatures were blamed for two train derailments after train tracks warped in the heat. The blazing temperatures have hampered firefighters working to contain brush fires that have charred hundreds of north Texas acres.

Nationwide, 155 deaths have been blamed on heat-related causes, including 99 in Texas, 29 in Louisiana and 19 in Oklahoma.

Georgia got a break from the heat because of a low pressure system that muscled into the area, bringing a cold front with drier air from eastern Canada and the Great Lakes, Mr. Moore said. It was the first time in almost a month and a half that a cold front made it this far south.

The plunging temperatures brought lows of 63 degrees to Atlanta, 58 degrees to Athens, Ga., and 60 degrees to Macon early Monday.

Augusta's low of 69 degrees on Saturday was well above the record low of 56 degrees.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.