Through at least the middle of August, most of Georgia will likely be warmer and drier than normal. The weather outlook for the mountain counties is less certain.

Summer is the most difficult season to forecast for the Southeast. The El Niño — Southern Oscillation ocean-atmosphere pattern, or ENSO, gives atmospheric scientists good guidance on what weather to expect during winter and early spring. But during the summer, ENSO has little impact on temperatures and rainfall in the Southeast. Because of this, atmospheric scientists must use other information for forecasts.

One of the best indicators of climate over a period of several weeks is persistence. Persistence means the current climate pattern will continue for a period of time. Since Georgia has been warmer and drier than normal since March, the persistence outlook is for Georgia to remain warmer and drier than normal for the next several weeks.

An additional indicator is the current drought. Even with normal temperatures and rain during the summer, Georgia soils continue to dry, and stream flows drop. Even if Georgia receives normal rain this summer, the drought is expected to continue.

Drought and warmer-than-normal temperatures go together and typically reinforce each other. Dry soils mean that more energy from the sun heats the soil and the air above it. Warmer temperatures mean that the soils lose more water to evaporation and plant water use.

With drought conditions leading to higher temperatures, the current drought indicates an outlook of warmer-than-normal temperatures.