Early July heat relief gives way to sweltering norm

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Until Tuesday, Northeast Mississippians had enjoyed an unusually mild July. That will change, forecasters say.
Most of early July has been cooler and wetter than normal at the region’s Tupelo measurement site.
The month’s first three days averaged more than six degrees below normal temperatures, and Monday was the first July day warmer than the date’s average.
July 4th, usually a scorcher of a holiday, saw a high of only 84, seven degrees below the norm.
But Monday crept close to normal with a high of 91 degrees and Tuesday’s heat index reached at least 103 degrees with an actual temperature of 95.
“Even though we’ve had a relatively cool spring, the typical summer pattern is setting up. We were getting close to average in June,” Maye said.
After unseasonably cool and wet weather in April and May, Northeast Mississippi’s official weather site recorded slightly warmer than normal temperatures in June with less than average rainfall.
The Tupelo statistics for June came with 14 days that exceeded 90 degrees, including a monthly high of 97 on June 27. The site’s measured rain of just over two inches was less than half the month’s 4.5-inch normal, even as some parts of the region received considerably more than average. (One area of Prentiss County actually doubled the average with about nine inches of precipitation.)
June’s warmer-than-average weather was a drastic contrast to previous months.
May’s official temperatures went as low as 37 but only as high as 89, averaging 1.9 degrees below normal. April’s official temperatures spanned from 37 to 88, averaging nearly one degree colder than usual. March was 5.9 degrees colder than normal in Tupelo, ranging from 23 to 78 degrees.
The cool trend had begun in February, which was 0.8 degrees cooler than average, with extremes of 23 and 76.
“The cool spring was mainly due to several upper-level disturbances across the area,” said Zach Maye, a forecaster in the National Weather Service’s Memphis office. “Also … with (extra rain) comes more cloud cover and less chance for temperatures to rise.”
January, usually the coldest month, was 4.3 degrees warmer than usual, with the same monthly high and low as February’s.
Among last month’s most notable weather news was its early- and late-month storms. The first day of the month produced thunderstorms that dumped heavy rain on parts of the region and leveled trees in many areas.
Thunderstorms were recorded in the region again on June 5 and 9, with yet another round on June 27 and 28. Parts of the Mid-South saw one-inch-diameter hail and wind gusts near 80 miles per hour from those latter storms.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami is predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season this summer and fall. While tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes that hit the northern Gulf Coast only occasionally bring wind damage to the Mid-South, they can dump several inches of rain while passing through the region.
“That depends on how they set up and what direction they take,” Maye said. “If these do get in the Gulf, it does increase our chances of getting precipitation from them.”
errol.castens@journalinc.com