2007 Climate Summary for North and Central Georgia
January 6, 2008

2007 was primarily dominated by a worsening drought that nearly reached historic record proportion in Atlanta and Athens. This second consecutive year of drought was also accompanied by frequent near record or record warmth, especially during January, March, August, and December.

A mild January which experienced departures ranging from +3.3 degrees F. in Columbus to +4.7 degrees F. in Macon, produced 2 record high temperatures. On the 7th, the record of 74 degrees was tied in Columbus, followed on the 15th by a new record high in Atlanta of 73 degrees breaking the old record of 72 degrees, set back in 1950. In February, temperatures briefly reversed this trend and actually posted negative departures from average, ranging from -0.6 degree in Athens to -1.8 degrees in Columbus. However, very mild conditions returned in March as departures ballooned with a range of +3.6 degrees in Macon to +5.9 degrees in the capital city. In fact, late March witnessed a string of high temperatures in the mid to upper 80s that resulted in another record temperature being set in Atlanta on the 25th, of 87 degrees. The first 3 months of the year were also quite dry, as rainfall deficits rose quickly to 7.20 inches in Atlanta, 6.56 inches in Columbus, 5.42 inches in Macon, and 3.78 inches in Athens.

Drought conditions intensified from moderate and severe to extreme over much of north and central Georgia by late spring. In April, both Atlanta and Athens received less than half their average rainfall of 3.62 and 3.35 inches, respectively. This was followed by record and near record dryness in May, as Macon received just a trace of rainfall for the month. Similarly, Columbus experienced their 2nd driest May on record when only 0.26 inches fell on two separate days. Temperatures in April reversed the mild trend previously established in January and March. All four cities recorded cooler than normal monthly averages, with departures ranging from -0.9 degrees in Athens to -1.7 degrees in Macon. During this cooler than normal period, Atlanta set a record low at 28 degrees on the 7th which broke the previous record of 29 F set in 1982. This trend was short-lived however, as May posted departures from average on the plus side with Atlanta and Columbus leading the way with +1.8 and +1.4 degrees F., respectively.

Despite near or above average rainfall in June at Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon. Early heat waves beginning on the 4th of June in Macon, and on the 6th elsewhere, significantly reduced any relief from the drought. In fact, the 20 days in which the maximum temperature reached 90 F or above in all four cities were the most in a June since 1986. This heat contributed to all 4 cities posting above average monthly temperatures with departures ranging from +0.6 in Columbus to +2.7 degrees F. in Atlanta. In comparison, July temperatures were fairly moderate with not one of the four locations equaling the number of 90 degree readings from the previous month. Also, both Atlanta and Athens observed a rare occurrence, whereas their average monthly temperature in July was lower than June by 1.2 and 0.5 degrees, respectively. However, July proved to be another drier than average month for Atlanta and Athens, while Columbus and Macon recorded above average rainfall by 0.15 and 1.90 inches, respectively. 

The table below compares monthly rainfall amounts from 2007 to the 30 year averages.  

    Jan Feb Mar Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total Departure
Atlanta  2007  3.95 2.63 1.31 1.79 2.05 3.66 1.85 3.48 2.92 2.47 0.96 4.78 31.85 -18.35
1971-2000 30 yr
5.03 4.68 5.38 3.62 3.95 3.63 5.12 3.67 4.09 3.11 4.10 3.82 50.20
Athens  2007  3.48 2.92 3.89 1.64 1.56 2.17 3.48 1.72 0.53 2.35 2.35 5.42 31.51 -16.32
1971-2000 30 yr
4.69 4.39 4.99 3.35 3.86 3.94 4.41 3.78 3.53 3.47 3.71 3.71 47.83
Macon  2007  4.43 2.19 1.49 2.15 Trace 4.69 6.32 6.15 3.10 1.29 1.19 6.86 39.86 -5.14
1971-2000 30 yr
5.00 4.55 4.90 3.14 2.98 3.54 4.32 3.79 3.26 2.37 3.22 3.93 45.00
Columbus  2007  3.76 2.33 2.36 4.03 0.26 4.70 5.19 4.41 1.90 1.49 3.11 4.30 37.84 -10.73
1971-2000 30 yr
4.78 4.48 5.75 3.84 3.62 3.51 5.04 3.78 3.07 2.33 3.97 4.40 48.57

In August, temperatures soared to unprecedented levels. On the 8th, the high temperature reached 100 F in Atlanta for the first time in nearly 7 years. Then, on the 13th, while reaching the century mark for the fifth time, Atlanta tied July of 1980 for the most 100 degree temperatures in any month. The record breaking heat went on through the 23rd to either tie or establish 9 record high temperatures which included 4 more 100+ degree readings. The 104 degrees achieved on the 22nd set the record for any August and barely missed the all time record high in the capital city by a single degree. Also on the 22nd, Athens experienced a high temperature of 106 F which tied the record high for the date, but missed the record for August by just one degree. By the end of the month, Atlanta had experienced its warmest month ever with an average monthly temperature of 85.6 degrees. Similarly, Athens tied its warmest month of July �93, while Columbus recorded its warmest August and their 3rd warmest month, followed by Macon tying its warmest August and equaling their 4th warmest month ever. With respect to precipitation, both Columbus and Macon recorded surpluses of 0.63 and 2.36 inches, respectively, while Atlanta and Athens posted deficits of 0.19 and 2.06 inches, respectively. This oppressive heat combined with spotty and infrequent late day convective activity led to much of north and west Georgia being upgraded to an exceptional drought by the end of August.

Milder than average temperatures and below average precipitation dominated through September and October. All four cities recorded a positive departure from normal in the average monthly temperature as well as a deficit in rainfall for both months. In September, Athens measured slightly more than a half inch (0.53") of rainfall while posting an average temperature of 76.4 F or +3.8 above their monthly average. This ranked as the12th warmest and 6th driest September on record for Athens. The above average departures were even greater in October, ranging from +2.8 degrees in Columbus to +4.6 degrees F. in Athens. Again, rainfall was scarce with both Columbus (1.49") and Macon (1.29") receiving less than an inch and a half for the month.

A series of polar fronts arriving in early, mid, and late November finally brought a return to seasonable temperatures for northern and central Georgia. It was the first time since July in which all four cities posted a monthly temperature below their average reading. Early morning freezing temperatures occurring around the 8th, 16th, 24th, and 28th contributed to departures from average ranging from -0.2 degrees F. in Atlanta to -1.5 degrees F. in Columbus. However, these fronts interacted with rather dry air masses and produced generally light amounts of precipitation. For the 3rd consecutive month, all four cities recorded rainfall deficits. With less than an inch (0.96") of total precipitation, Atlanta recorded its 3rd driest November since 1960, and the10th drier than normal month of the year. Macon fared only a little better receiving just 1.19" inches for the month which was over 2 inches below average. By the end of November, yearly rainfall deficits were approaching 20 inches in Atlanta and Athens and both were challenging 1954 for the driest year on record.

The dry conditions continued into early December as unseasonably mild temperatures once again returned to Georgia. The warmth was so persistent that by the 9th, record high temperatures were set in all 4 cities. By reaching 76 F., Atlanta exceeded the previous high temperature for the date by 5 degrees. Macon surpassed its previous high temperatures for the day by 2 degrees with a balmy 80 degrees. Atlanta went on to set new record highs on three consecutive days, while Athens set new records on the 9th and 10th, then tied two more on the 11th and 13th. In a 5 day period, a total of eleven record high temperatures were either equaled or exceeded. Temperatures cooled to more seasonable readings by mid-December but generally remained above average through the end of the year. Again, all four cities posted an average monthly temperature well above normal with Atlanta, Athens, and Macon exceeding their mark by 5 degrees or more. This was enough for all three to record their 9th warmest December on record. By year�s end, Atlanta had experienced their 2nd warmest year on record, while Athens tied 1990 for 4th warmest. However, one remarkable change occurred by mid month which brought a reprieve to the drought conditions. A fast westerly flow with a series of upper level waves began to periodically tap gulf moisture which resulted in extended bands of precipitation crossing Georgia. In the last 17 days, Atlanta and Athens recorded 4.59"and 5.18 inches of rainfall, respectively. It was just enough, by .05" to prevent Atlanta from establishing their driest year on record, while Athens missed the same fate by 2.90 inches.

Specific reports for select cities in 2007.
Weather Elements Atlanta Athens Macon Columbus
Hottest Day August 22...104 August 22...106 August 10...105 August 10...104
Coldest Day Jan. 29...18 Jan. 29...18 Feb. 17...19 Feb. 17...23
Wettest 24 Hour Period Sep. 13th...1.64" March 1st...3.73" July 1st...2.89" Nov. 26th...2.56"
Wettest Month December....4.78" December....5.42" December....6.86" July....5.19"
City Mean Temperature for 2007 Normal Mean Temperature Mean Temperature Departure from Normal Total Rainfall for 2007 Normal Total Rainfall Total Rainfall Departure from Normal
Atlanta 64.5 62.1 +2.4 31.85" 50.20" -18.35
Athens 64.0 61.5 +2.5 31.51" 47.83" -16.32
Macon 65.3 63.7 +1.6 39.71" 45.00" -5.29"
Columbus 66.6 65.1 +1.5 37.84" 48.57" -10.73"

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