Cool, wet July atypical for state
Posted: Monday, August 3, 2009 9:11 pm
From AP, staff reports
NASHVILLE — The usually hottest part of a Tennessee summer has slipped by without many people breaking a sweat.
Forecasters say a persistent upper level trough has brought the state, and several others in the eastern U.S., cooler and wetter weather than is usual in the summertime.
The coolest among July records occurred in 1882 and this July was expected to be the coolest since 1967, averaging 3.4 degrees below normal.
“We’re on track for the fourth-coolest July on record,” National Weather Service meteorologist Bobby Boyd in Nashville said the day before the month ended.
Nashville was drenched with 6.03 inches of rain — 2.26 inches more than normal for July.
Locally, the A.L. Strub Waste Water plant, which records temperature extremes and daily rainfall in Union City for The Messenger’s front-page report, showed 6.76 inches of rain in July, with precipitation falling in measurable amounts on 11 days and a “trace” on the 12th day. In July 2008, there was 2.64 inches over six days and in July 2007, only .94 of an inch over five days. There were 11 rainy days in July 2006, nine in 2005 and 10 in 2004, but the total amounts for each of those months never reached more than 4.54 inches, which fell in July 2005.
The 2.59 inches absorbed locally on Sept. 21 accounted for more than one-third of the precipitation recorded for the 31-day mid-summer cycle.
Daily temperature records fell in Nashville and many days felt like fall. There were six record events — some for overnight lows, others for lowest daily high temperatures. The most startling was a July 19 low of 57 degrees that tied the daily record low.
Union City residents enjoyed a similar cooling-off period in the evening hours of July 18 and 19, when the thermometer dipped to 57 degrees, rising the following evening to a low of 58 before moving back into the more “normal” 60-degree range. The temperature did not set a local record, however, since even two summers ago, the mercury slid down to a low of 56 degrees on July 21 and 22.
Just days before the local July low-level temperature mark was set, the month’s highest reading of 93 degrees was scored. It was one of four days when residents endured 90-plus readings, but even at that, the discomfort was considerably less than in 2008, when 90 degree and higher temperatures were listed for 16 days and the high rose to 95 degrees.
There were records in other Tennessee cities as well — ties of 59 and 60 degrees in Knoxville, a chilly 51 degrees set at Tri-Cities on July 3, 81 degrees for a daily high at Memphis on two days.
Memphis received 8.46 inches of rain in July — a month in which the 30-year average is 3.99 inches.
Only 13 days had hit 90 or more degrees and the warmest day of the month reached only 95.
“It’s not uncharacteristic to have triple-digit heat,” Weather Service forecaster Krissy Scotten said of Memphis in July.
The news wasn’t all that good for farmers.
“This has been a weird year,” said Tim Smith, Obion County’s office director for the University of Tennessee Extension Service. “We started off extra wet. Then when it finally dried up some, it was like turning off a faucet and that hurt. Now the rain has started again. The mositure was welcome to begin with, but now we need some dry time. Cotton has been the most drastically affected, because it needs heat. The cotton crop has been hit a lot worse than corn and beans. So we’ve got some really good crops and some really bad ones and everything in between, too. It’s been very difficult for farmers. They will see some really good and some really bad. They didn’t get as much corn planted as they wanted, but they got more beans than they anticipated, even though a lot of that crop was planted very late. It got too wet to plant milo, so a lot of farmers planted beans instead.”
“A few days of sunshine and dry weather is needed by all crops,” Jeff Lannom, the Weakley County agriculture extension agent, said in a report to the state.
In Wilson County, agriculture agent Allie R. Correll’s report stated, “Cool temperatures have slowed blooming pod set on soybeans. Disease pressure may have increased due to rain.”
Truck crops have prospered, though, with Grainger County agent Anthony Carver reporting, “Tomatoes have been good, with a slight amount of disease pressure.”
The most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture crop weather, dated July 26, showed only 37 percent of the cotton crop was setting bolls, compared with a five-year average of 75 percent. The crop, grown primarily in West Tennessee, had also been dogged by late planting because of a wet spring.
As much as some humans have enjoyed the cooler, wetter weather, the insects have thrived in it, too.
“This year seems to be a pretty buggy year,” said Dr. Frank Hale, an entomologist with the UT Agricultural Extension.
Hale said the abundant rainfall is more the cause than the cooler temperatures.
“We’ve had plenty of moisture,” Hale said. “That always brings mosquitoes.”
Ticks are also more plentiful this summer, and Hale said there have been more cases of tick-borne diseases, including at least two deaths involving children.
Published in The Messenger 8.3.09