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Georgia’s threat of hurricanes this season eased by distant weather, UGA reports

rain, chamblee

Shoppers parked close to the door of the Walmart in Chamblee as storm clouds threatened to release another of the downpours that were common in early June across metro Atlanta. Credit: David Pendered

By David Pendered

The threat of hurricanes landing in Georgia this season is reduced by the persistence of an El Niño in the Pacific Ocean, according to a report released Friday by a climatologist at the University of Georgia – who also observed that the downpours this months have reduced the extent of drought in the state.

rain, chamblee

Shoppers parked close to the door of the Walmart in Chamblee as storm clouds threatened to release another of the downpours that were common in early June across metro Atlanta. Credit: David Pendered

The forecast must be a relief to those in Georgia who await money for hurricane recovery Congress approved this month – eight months after Hurricane Michael made landfall. They still have no idea when the money will arrive in their communities.

Regarding hurricanes in Georgia and the Southeast, UGA climatologist Pam Knox observed in her report:

  • “While El Niño impacts on climate in the Southeast in summer are relatively weak, we do expect that the potential for hurricanes will be somewhat reduced. We also expect that next winter may be wetter than usual, although where the wettest conditions will be depends on exactly how the event develops.”

Knox tailors her forecasts for the state’s farming and livestock communities. Knox serves as agricultural climatologist in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Knox noted that this El Niño weather condition is expected to last for months, citing her interpretation of a reportby the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center. Knox observed:

  • “Virtually every statistical and dynamical model predicts that this El Niño will continue for the next few months, potentially into next winter.”

By way of reminder, El Niño and its counterpart, La Niña, are weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean, west of South America, that impact the United States.

El Niños are associated with conditions that make it harder for hurricanes to form over the Atlantic Ocean, and with above-average rainfalls in the South, according to a reportby livescience.com. La Niñas spur conditions opposite those of El Niños.

Regarding the abnormally dry conditions, and severe drought that were declared this month in parts of Georgia, Knox observed that recent heavy rains have eased the dry conditions.

drought comparison, june 2019

Steady and persistent rains this month helped ease drought conditions, especially across portions of North Georgia. Credit: site.extension.uga.edu/climate/

Drier weather should return in the coming week, Knox observed:

  • “Next week should be relatively dry so the departures will trend back towards normal rainfall.”

Areas of severe drought persist in central South Georgia, in an area around Tifton – a peanut-producing region. The rains eased severe drought conditions that had existed along the Savannah River, in an area upriver from Savannah. These areas are now listed as moderate drought.

Much of North Georgia is now free of drought conditions, according to the report by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Areas near Rome remain in moderate or severe drought, but the rest of the region is back to normal.

Knox’s reports on Friday mark her return from vacation with her Mom. They traveled to Alaska and the Yukon and Knox, who writes a fairly personal weather column for her readers, offered a few observations in her last post before vacation, on June 1:

  • “Today marks the beginning of climatological summer in the Southeast. Hope it’s a good one! Seems like we’ve had an early start to the Dog Days of Summer this year.
  • “I’m taking a break from the blog for two weeks while I travel to Alaska and the Yukon with my mom. How great is that? A good chance to see glaciers before they disappear. They’ve been running warmer than normal for the last month  (see my post from yesterday) but I don’t think that will continue while I am there.”
rain, departure from normal, june 12

Some areas of Georgia received more than 4 ½ inches of rain this month, while North Georgia benefitted from rainfalls of up to 3 inches. Credit: site.extension.uga.edu/climate/


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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1 Comment

  1. Scott June 21, 2019 5:43 pm

    That is a way overly simplistic view. Lots of factors go into forecasting the hurricane season. The El Nino that has been foretold is weak at best and DECREASING. Most of the subsurface water is anomalously cold, so come August the ENSO signal will be neutral at best. What is more concerning is the Tropical Atlantic is warmer than normal while the Northern Subtropical Atlantic is cooler than normal. That fosters low pressure in the Tropics. Thee SST maps look a whole lot like 2017 so dont anyone for a second get in that “seasons canceled” mentality. It only takes one for a season to be devastating as those in S GA know all too well.Report


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