It’s officially fall now, but it doesn’t feel like it in Atlanta. The heat is expected to continue at least through the rest of this week, and likely longer. Same with the lack of rain.
Atlanta is on track to have one of its hottest years on record. For 13 days in a row earlier this month, temperatures topped 95 degrees — that’s another record.
And the dome of high pressure keeping temperatures high and the sky cleared of clouds does not look to be going anywhere, says Dylan Lusk, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City.
“We have basically sun and temperatures in the 90s for most of the area,” he says. “It actually looks like towards the end of the week we’re going to be approaching record highs at least in Atlanta and possibly a couple of our other climate sites in Athens and Columbus and Macon.”
It’s not just hot, it’s also really dry. Much of Georgia is experiencing a flash drought that took shape very quickly.
“A lot of grass pasturelands drying out, we have a lot of stressed animals, especially North Georgia,” says Georgia state climatologist Bill Murphey. “Some crop failures in parts of the state. Peanuts have taken a hit just because of the dry soil.”
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, more than 20 percent of Georgia is experiencing some level of drought conditions.
Some places haven’t seen any rain for weeks, says Pam Knox, an agricultural climatologist at UGA. She says the dry conditions are mostly hitting farmers at this point, not affecting water supply for people.
It’s not unusual for fall to be dry here, nor is it unprecedented for a dome of high pressure to park itself, says Knox. But, she says, climate change also has a role.
“We’re still seeing temperatures on the average that are warmer than they have been in the past,” she says. “The weather is consistent with what we’ve seen for the past weather, but that overlying temperature is a little warmer than it used to be. And so that’s something that really is a sign that we’re seeing these long term trends start to appear.”
Last year was Atlanta’s 5th warmest on record. The city’s warmest year was 2016.