On just about any hot August night, most everyone in these parts is praying for a rainy night in Georgia. But nowadays, most folks are hoping that the rain will go away and the good Lord will let the sunshine in.
At the end of January of this year, it appeared that we here in Central Georgia would have to endure yet another dry year. Only an inch of rain in a relatively rainy month seemed to indicate that the two-foot plus deficit in the preceding two years was bound to continue.
But then someone let the rain come down. In nearly half of the year’s shortest month, rain gauges measured 12.18 inches, three times Laurens County’s normal February rainfall.
The St. Patrick’s people prayed for a dry month in March and they got what the asked for, nearly an inch below normal in a mere eight rainy days. That trend continued in April and the prospects of bountiful May flowers were seriously in doubt. Tropical Storm Andrea dumped more than four inches on the county on June 5-7, initiating the wettest summer in our county’s history.
Then it was in the days which followed the summer solstice when the dread of another hot dry summer began to change. On June 22 and every day for the next twenty- three days it rained. Beginning on that day and for the next five weeks, more (way more in certain areas) than a foot of rain fell, all without the aid of a tropical rain. Normally during that period we average about five inches, mostly from pop up afternoon thunderstorms. There is no such thing as an all time record rainfall as official records go back less than 125 years. But, I think I would be safe in saying that never in the recorded meteorological history of our state has it ever rained for twenty-four days in a row in the first four weeks of summer.
Here is where I have to say that there is only one official rain gauge in our county and it is located at the Laurens County Emergency Management Center. It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway, that it does rain in other places in the county when rain doesn’t fall into the official measuring tube. There was one day in July when it rained more than two inches in northern Dublin while less than a quarter of an inch was officially registered.
Normal conditions returned in late July and throughout the first thirteen days of August less than an inch of rain was recorded. Rainy day feelings were fading away when here came the rain again.
Out of nowhere, it seemed as if every old man in the county started snoring and the twilight skies starting pouring, dumping rain out of the heavens. Virtually no one saw it coming. Just about eight o’clock, it came a flood. The gully washer continued nonstop for 90 minutes. In less than a length of a baseball game, we exceeded our average August rainfall of 4.84 inches. Again, there are no accurate all time records. But, six or more inches in 90 minutes, now that’s a downpour worth remembering. And, the rain kept coming, another six or more inches in northwest Dublin in three days.
Weathermen love records. Extreme weather readings give forecasters a barometer (I couldn’t resist punning here) to inform their readers and viewers of forecasts and trends.
July is the wettest average month with 5.00 inches, closely followed by March and August. The wettest official month ever in Dublin came in January 1925 with 14.4 inches. August 1928 with two tropical storms dumping rain in buckets gave that month 14.07 inches. As of press time with 12.94 inches, this month of August may set an all time monthly official rainfall. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there was no rain in the rain gauges in October 1961 and September 2005.
The wettest official day ever came on January 19, 1943 when 7.15 inches of rain was recorded. I remember the 2nd day of June in 2007, when there was more than eight inches in my rain gauge - the official number that day was 6.84. In some places in eastern Laurens County more than 10 inches fell when Tropical Storm Barry passed through. On average, the wettest days come in mid January and in early August when tropical storms are prone to come through.
On average, the wettest meteorological season is Summer followed by winter, spring and fall. Before this year, the wettest winter came in 1912, the spring in 1991, the summer in 1928 (26.98) and fall in 1929 (19.53). Already this year, the accumulated summer rains are approaching 31.58 official inches with six days to go, making this the wettest season, official or not, in the history of weather records in Dublin.
Laurens County is located at the southwestern end of an area from Dublin to Augusta which is the driest in the state and has between 47 and 49 inches of rain annually.
The all time record annual rainfall came in 1912 with 70.31 inches, augmented with the presence of five tropical storms in the state. Right behind that record was 1964 with its 68.28 inches and its five tropical storm rains. So far this year with only one tropical storm, the total official rainfall stands At 54.22 with a little more than four months to go. Statewide the year 1964 was first with 70.66 inches, with 1929 coming in at 70.01. That year, Dublin measured 70.8 inches with only 1 tropical storm.
The wettest-five year period in Georgia in the last 120 years occurred from 1944 to 1948. The driest came exactly a decade later from 1954 (the driest year ever) to 1958.
During this year, we have had at least eighteen days with more than an inch of rain. The highest came on August 14 with 5.75 ( six to seven in some places, and none in others - remember this is a real big county.) The plus side to this torrential record is that the official temperature has never risen above 95.4 degrees, that was on June 12. For the year and for the summer, for a change we are right at normal average temperatures. The negative side is all of the leaking roofs, unless you are in the roofing business and then you are smiling.
As this month comes to an end, the official total at press time through August 25 is 12.78 inches and counting . In many places in the northwestern section of Dublin, from August 11 to August 18, private rain gauges registered at least eight inches more than the official total bringing the August total in my rain gauge, here in the edge of Hunger and Hardship Creek to 20 plus inches. From August 14 to August 25, there was measurable rainfall. 11 Days in a row. Wow!
It looks like we won’t break the official record, but I dare you find some one who won’t claim that it rained way more than a foot during the month. I’ll stop talking now, because nobody can stop the rain. And, I will just say, rain, rain go away, come again another dry week.
In the months to come, we can expect the dry weather to return and much needed rainfall will soon be desired. Three and three quarters of an inch are normal for September and just more than two and one half inches is an average for October, typically the driest month of all. Then we can stop crying about the rain. Or will we?