It’s been quite a tolerable summer so far, with slightly below-average temperatures and slightly above-average rainfall for much of Tennessee, including the Cumberland Plateau.
But we’re currently drying out, and we’re about to get really hot.
In fact, the hottest temperatures of summer are likely on the way, with much lesser coverage from diurnal thunderstorms to help cool things down. That’s not to say we’re going to be exceptionally hot, at least not yet, but we are going to see temperatures well into the 80s for the remainder of this week, likely getting even hotter by the weekend. By Saturday and Sunday we’ll likely be close to 90 degrees.
And while we’ve seen likely rain chances almost every day for the past couple of weeks, we’re only going to see minor chances of daily afternoon thunderstorms over the next week or so. That’s going to make it feel even more like summer.
Our average temperature for the month of July continues to run about two degrees below normal. That’s not quite the definition of “cool,” but what makes things even more notable is the absence of any extreme heat. We’ve had only one day this month with temperatures in the 90s in Oneida, and that was on July 1, when the temperature was 92. By contrast, last year we had seven days in July with temperatures in the 90s.
Over the next seven days, our forecasted highs from the National Weather Service are 86°, 86°, 86°, 87°, 87°, 88° and 88°. Thunderstorm chances will increase early next week, and there’s currently a 50/50 chance of storms in the forecast for Monday.
But the longer-range pattern is likely to be for more of the same, with lots of heat and low rain chances relative to what we have seen for much of July.
We’ve seen 5.6 inches of rain recorded in Oneida so far this month, which is about two inches more than we typically see by this point in July. But it’s likely that we see below-average rainfall between now and at least August, with the hot and dry pattern perhaps extending into September.
The atmospheric setup so far this summer season has been for ridging that has delivered extreme heat out west, and lots of troughing in the east. Tropical ridges haven’t had too much of an influence on our weather here in Tennessee, and cold fronts have been able to sink further south than perhaps they typically would.
Now, as we end July, it appears the broader atmospheric setup over the continent is about to shift, which will help deliver ridging to the eastern U.S. That means we’ll see less heat on the west side of the continental U.S. and more heat on the eastern side — which means Tennessee gets hotter.
Again, there are currently no extreme temperatures in the forecast for East Tennessee. We may flirt with 90° here on the northern plateau but shouldn’t get much warmer than that. That might change as we head into August, but for now we’ll only see slightly above-average temperatures. But with less rain chances and intrusions by frontal boundaries than we’ve seen thus far this summer, it’s going to feel like quite a change.
The NWS’s Climate Prediction Center is currently projecting above-average temperatures for just about the entire Lower 48 for the next two weeks. Interestingly, the CPC then projects below-average temperatures to return to much of the eastern side of the country before the middle of August. I’m not too convinced that’s going to happen.