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Which is preferred: Snowstorms or record-setting heat?
Catherine Markey splashes into the water at the bottom of the water slide at the Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center Thursday. - photo by Tom Reed

Record high temperatures this summer have led North Georgians to search for ways to stay cool.

The state experienced above average temperatures for the sixth straight month in July, according to a press release from the state climatologist's office.

Atlanta had an average temperature of 82.4 degrees for the month of July, which is 2.4 degrees above the monthly average. During that time the temperature in Athens averaged 83 degrees, which is 3.2 degrees above its average.

The period from February through July saw the second warmest stretch during those months since record keeping began in 1878, according to the release. That followed a snowstorm in early January that dumped 6 inches across Gainesville and took days to melt away as temperatures remained below freezing.

Whether cold and snow or heat and sweat is worse, though, depends on individual preference.

And relief found at waterparks can help assuage the heat.

Chris Minor, recreation program manager at Frances Meadows Aquatic and Community Center in Gainesville, said the center has seen a steady amount of visitors compared to past summers, but it has had an increase attendance in the past week.

"This week has been really busy, which is kind of unusual for August," he said. "Normally after July is over people pretty much stop coming, but the hotter it is the busier we get."

Several residents embrace the hot temperatures and enjoy outdoor activities while they can.

"Truly the heat does not bother me," said Lynn Thomas of Gainesville. "I'm from New York and I've always felt like it's just as warm up there as it is down here. I like it, but at times it has been a little bit unbearable. But we come to the pool and we go to the lake and we cool off that way."

One advantage of heat over cold is that it doesn't affect driving conditions.

"I would prefer the heat over the snowstorms because the heat you can pretty much deal with it by drinking plenty of fluids and staying indoors in the A/C," Richard Markey of Demorest said. "Whereas opposed to a snowstorm you have to wear layers and you might have to deal with inclement driving conditions."

Some residents admit they are looking forward to cooler temperatures.

Kristy Lula said she prefers the fall and does not enjoy temperatures as high as they have been recently.

"We were here yesterday and it was terrible," she said. "The cold I can bundle up, but the heat you can't do a lot about."

Drought conditions have made the situation worse.

According to the press release, North Georgia received less rainfall in July as compared to June.

Athens recorded the lowest total precipitation for the entire month of July — a total of 1.46 inches, which is 2.95 inches below average.

The lack of rain has impacted Lake Lanier, which in the past week hit its lowest level since September 2009. It sat at 1,066.5 feet Thursday afternoon; full pool is 1,071.

Minor said the aquatic center has benefited from the heat and will remain open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily as school starts back next week.