We’re about three-fourths of the way through August, and it’s still feeling very much like midsummer here in Georgia. A short break from the humidity earlier this week was just temporary, and we’ve seen dew points climb back into the 70s with the return of Gulf moisture as the cool, dry air mass slides off the east coast. Those numbers may drop some as we go through the day due to subsidence and a drier atmosphere aloft.
Columbus picked up .87″ rain Tuesday evening from some scattered thunderstorms that formed late in the afternoon, triggered mainly by the afternoon heat that reached 96º in the city. That may turn out to be our last good opportunity for rain over the next several days as the atmosphere dries out and becomes more stable, making it harder for any storms to form. The upper ridge building overhead will also keep highs and lows above normal for late August.
Tropical Storm Gaston will likely become a hurricane later today, but the cyclone will remain over water as it moves through the central Atlantic. Of more interest to us is the tropical wave moving through the Leeward Islands this morning, still not strong enough or well enough organized to merit depression status. This storm will be headed through the islands and back over water, with a good chance the National Hurricane Center could upgrade the system should it strengthen in the next couple of days. Model forecasts do show a potential threat to the U.S., either in Florida or possibly into the Gulf of Mexico by next week; however, there is considerable uncertainty among models as to how strong the system will be and where it winds up.
On August 24, 1992 Hurricane Andrew tore through South Florida, making landfall as a rare Category 5 storm. It was the most destructive and expensive hurricane in U.S. history until Katrina came along in 2005.
Highs the rest of this week and over the weekend will climb into the mid-90s with mostly sunny skies and moderate humidity putting the heat index close to 100 at times. Our next rain opportunity may come sometime next week from the tropical system brewing in the western Atlantic, but that will depend on several factors that are not known at this time.
Kurt Schmitz, Senior Meteorologist