Despite all-time record heat in odd places last month, so far summer 2021 has been positively benign in most of North Georgia.
The month of June was our third straight with cooler than average temperatures and our fifth straight above normal for rainfall. So far in July we have yet to hit 90 degrees. If we fail to do so for the rest of the month (possible, but not likely) it will be a first in 39 years of records for Madison County.
Our two years with the fewest 90-degree days are 2013 with only seven, and 2003 with 10 days. We can normally expect 51 days in a year to hit 90 or above. So far in 2021 we have had just three 90-degree days. Also of note, it has been nine years since our last day of 100 degrees. The last time we hit 100 was on July 1, 2012 with a high of 104, our hottest ever recorded in July.
Now don't misunderstand: we have had plenty of what I would call "hot" days, especially when the humidity is factored in. In June every day but two was in the 80s or above. And with the Gulf of Mexico wide open, pumping plenty of moisture in, the days have been quite warm and the nights sultry. So far July has continued that same pattern of warmth, humidity and plentiful rain. So where has all the heat been this summer?
If you've been following the news, you know it was in places that are normally very pleasant in the summer. From June 26-28 areas of the Pacific Northwest had all-time record heat. On Monday the 28th, Seattle hit an astonishing 108 and Portland roasted at 116, both easily shattering their previous all-time records. Contrast our summer with Missoula, Montana, high in the Rocky Mountains. Every day in July so far has been above 90 (17 days), and they are 7.8 degrees above normal so far this month.
In June the heat hit them at the end of the month when they reached 102 on the 30th. Coupled with the heat has been drier than normal conditions. The drought out West has become serious once again, but regular summer storms have begun to make a dent in places like Arizona, New Mexico and parts of Utah and Colorado.
The summer so far could be called "A Tale of Two Regions,” with areas to the east of an El Paso to Minneapolis line cooler than normal and areas to the west of that line hotter. Most of the time, when you hear about extreme heat in one region, there is another area of abnormal cool to balance things out. It's just that we often only hear about the heat in the news. Satellite-measured global temperatures for June were 0.01 degrees below average as measured at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.
The Arctic Ocean ice volume is near record lows (but still 80 percent of normal) and the Antarctic Sea ice volume is near record highs. From what I can see now, expect more near-normal conditions with plenty of humidity through the end of July. Some of the models want to join the heat out West with a big high over us later this month. If that happens then our "cool summer" will be over.
Weather averages for June, 2021: Avg. low: 65. Avg. high: 85. Lowest: 53. Highest: 91. Mean: 75.1 (-1.2). Rainfall: 5.20" (+0.92"). 2021 rain total to June 30: 25.88" (+1.23").
Mark Jenkins is Madison County’s cooperative weather observer.