The lack of rainfall this month has been startling. July heat in Georgia is normally tempered by daily thunderstorms that provide decent, and occasionally heavy, rain to keep gardens and lawns growing. Our area has 12 thunderstorm days in an average July and 4.76" of rain, making it our second wettest month of the year.
Columbus has received only 0.86" of rain through the 24th of this month, which would make this by far the driest July in the city's history if it holds up over the next week. The record low rainfall in the city stands at 1.74" set in 1957, more than double what we have now. This is unprecedented territory for a Columbus summer no matter how you look at it.*
Yet, there are areas that have seen a bit more. My own total in north Columbus is 2.40", thanks to a couple of thunderstorms that brought some good rain in the first half of the month; the last 10 days, though, have brought almost nothing here either. Other areas in west Georgia and east Alabama have been luckier, with at least a few spots of heavy rain, though that too has been too spotty to really make a dent in what is increasingly looking like a developing serious drought. These variations in rainfall usually average out to some degree over time, but this summer has certainly been unusual. Don't forget that June was also well below normal.
I should note that there's still a week to go in July, and a couple of good storms could at least get us out of record territory by next weekend. Unfortunately, the pattern this week will bring a continuation of scorching heat and only minimal chances for thunderstorms. The pattern beyond a week does seem to hold some promise for a more active tropical Atlantic, and it could be that hurricane season could begin to heat up as we move into August. That could help our situation in late summer, though it depends greatly on the steering currents since a storm track toward the east coast rather than the Gulf can keep us high and dry. We had a dry, hot July just last year but picked up the pace in August which delivered 7½ inches of rain. We need something like that to happen this year, too.
Kurt Schmitz, Senior Meteorologist
*July 2001 deserves a footnote: Even though the airport had 2.05" that month, my gauge at home collected only 1.13" and the gauge I kept at my former TV station got only .92", most of which in each case fell in the last week of the month. So no "official" record, but it was a month very similar to this one.