Record heat across the region: Here’s what to expect in Middle Tennessee

·5 min read

Key Points

  • 2022 named record hot summer

  • Heat-related deaths and illnesses

  • What about the months ahead?

You’ve heard the old saying, “If you don’t like the weather in Tennessee, wait a few minutes or drive a few miles."

Well, that might not be true for the next several weeks, as the region could face even higher temperatures than what we’ve seen so far this summer.

“For the next six to ten days, it will be above normal temperatures or expected to be and below normal precipitation," National Weather Service Meteorologist Faith Borden said.

Austin Peay Junior linebacker Adam Noble sprays himself with water as he tries to stay cool during Thursday's practice at Governors Stadium.
Austin Peay Junior linebacker Adam Noble sprays himself with water as he tries to stay cool during Thursday's practice at Governors Stadium.

"Through the end of the month of July we’re looking at above normal temperatures and there could be a little precipitation in the second half of the month but nothing that’s huge,” Borden said, noting a little extra precipitation may be expected east of I-65.

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2022 one of hottest summers

As the summer promises to bring more hot weather, officials have already recognized several weather-related records for the summer months.

“We did hit 100 degrees in Nashville one day this year and we hadn’t done that in almost 10 years,” Borden said.

The 101-degree day was recorded on June 22 and additional triple digit readings are possible Friday through Saturday.

Experiencing such high temperatures this summer, NWS has issued several heat advisories and one heat warning – issued around the first week of July for a heat index value over 110 degrees.

NWS issues heat advisories and excessive heat warnings when the heat index is expected to be above 105 degrees, or 110 degrees respectively or the temperature to be equal to or greater than 103 degrees or be greater than 105 degrees.

And those advisories and warnings issued are proof of the brutal heat the area has faced.

“Nashville has had its third warmest summer based on the mean temperature, which was 81.5 degrees, so it has definitely been a hot summer,” East Tennessee State University Climate Office Assistant State Climatologist William Tollefson said.

“The two that were warmer, for this period from June 1 – July 18, were 1952 and 1914, so it’s been quite a while since we’ve had our summer start out this warm.”

While many things work to contribute to warmer summers, drought is one piece of that puzzle, working to heat the ground and air and evaporate water.

“We came into spring and early summer pretty dry, especially for the western half of the state, and so I think that’s probably contributing to some of these higher temperatures that we’re seeing across the state," Tollefson said. “Anytime we’re seeing these prolonged days in the 90s, and especially at nighttime, if temperatures don’t cool off as much that can be really bad for crops but also for human health... if we’re not able to cool ourselves off overnight that can lead to compounding heat stress that can lead to things like people heading to the ER with heat stroke."

Orlindo Sparks, 5, leans over for a drink at the water fountain and for water to wash off corn starch he and his friends got into playing with at Edith Pettus Park in Clarksville, Tenn., on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.
Orlindo Sparks, 5, leans over for a drink at the water fountain and for water to wash off corn starch he and his friends got into playing with at Edith Pettus Park in Clarksville, Tenn., on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.

Heat-related deaths and illnesses

More than 600 people in the United States are killed by extreme heat every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But it’s important to remember that heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable, so let’s look at ways to combat heat stress and stay safe this summer.

Keep cool

There are a lot of ways to keep cool in the summer heat, including:

  • wearing lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing,

  • remaining in an air-conditioned space – whether that be your home, an office building or public place such as libraries, stores or heat-relief shelters,

  • taking a cool shower or bath,

  • reducing physical exertion or exercise,

  • scheduling outdoor activities for early morning and late evening hours when temperatures are cooler

  • and wearing sunscreen

Keep hydrated

Dehydration kills.

But severe loss of the body’s fluids and electrolytes can be prevented with regular hydration by drinking plenty of fluids and drinking before feeling thirsty.

Replacing the body’s salt and minerals lost through sweat is also important and can be done with a sports drink.

And not only is it important to keep yourself hydrated but making sure others such as friends, family and pets maintain proper hydration is important as well.

Provide pets with plenty of fresh water and leave it in a shady area away from the sun.

Ashley Whitlow lifts up her daughter Emersyn Whitlow, 2, while the two play in the water spot area on an especially hot day when a heat wave is sweeping across the U.S. at Swan Lake Pool in Clarksville, Tenn., on Saturday, July 20, 2019.
Ashley Whitlow lifts up her daughter Emersyn Whitlow, 2, while the two play in the water spot area on an especially hot day when a heat wave is sweeping across the U.S. at Swan Lake Pool in Clarksville, Tenn., on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

Keep informed

Staying up to date on the forecasted temperatures, heat index and current extreme heat advisories or warnings in the surrounding area is an important step toward navigating and preventing heat-related deaths and illnesses.

While anyone can suffer from heat-related illness at any time in their life, some people are at a greater risk than others and should be checked on frequently during extreme heat including infants and children, people 65 years of age or older, those who work or exercise outdoors and those who are physically ill or who take certain medications.

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And learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, sunburn and heat rash and what to do if someone is experiencing symptoms. It may save a life one day.

Symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses.

What about the months ahead?

According to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, temperatures are expected to continue to climb through August.

“Looking out through mid-August we’re looking at still above normal temperatures and precipitation, well there isn’t any real clear climate signals showing anything above or below normal,” Borden said.

Data from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration shows forecasts for warmer weather extending into the cooler months beyond August.

“Currently NOAA seasonal forecasts are showing pretty much all of Tennessee with the likelihood of an above average temperature through the end of the year,” Tollefson said.

Meaning people may want to hang on to a few summer outfits as we head into the cooler months, just in case those warm sunny days hang around a little longer.

Katie Nixon can be reached at knixon@gannett.com or (615) 517-1285.

This article originally appeared on Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: 2022 marks top three hottest summers in Tennessee in nearly 150 years