For a month when the TV weather gurus usually have little to do but offer humdrum day-after-day forecasts of “widely scattered showers” for the Mid-South — and farmers who get one of those showers count themselves fortunate indeed — the July just ended has been totally weird.
But then, the year thus far has been as if the weather gods were on a drunken toot, reaching into their hamper of systems and fronts and indiscriminately tossing out whatever came to hand.
First, there was the extended wet, cold spring that stretched well into May and messed up normal planting schedules all over the area. It seemed it would never stop raining or that we’d ever see warm, sunny weather.
When the rains finally ceased and the weather warmed, it was with a vengeance. The last half of June could’ve passed for the dog days of August: scorching temps, miserable humidity, and baking sun that turned soils to concrete and had farmers hopping to keep irrigation systems running full bore.
Then came July and the monsoons — rainy day after rainy day after rainy day, with a few tornadoes and a lot of severe thunderstorms tossed in.
In a month when you’d normally do well to see a five-minute shower, many areas of the Mid-South set rainfall records, and those that didn’t had many times the average amount of precip.
Examples (unofficial): Clarksdale, Miss., 6.03 inches; Stoneville, Miss., 8.32 inches; Starkville/Mississippi State University, 10.54 inches (second wettest July on record); Lake Charles, La., 11.01 inches; Lafayette, La., 8.75 inches; Memphis, Tenn., 8.42 inches (July 30 set an all-time record for that date, 2.02 inches); Dyersburg, Tenn., 9.42 inches; Jackson, Tenn., Experiment Station, 7.41 inches, and coolest July on record; Marianna, Ark., 8:40 inches; Missouri Bootheel areas, 4.5 inches or more, etc., etc.
The average overall temperature at Memphis for the month was 78 degrees. That’s 5 degrees cooler than the 10-year average for the month and 11 degrees cooler than last July’s average. Many areas of the Mid-South set records for low temperatures and for lowest high temperatures. And August started much the same: For Aug. 1, the Little Rock area had record rainfall and a record lowest high temperature.
This in a region that “normally” records total July rainfall of half-an-inch or less and where the only cool you’re likely to encounter is in an air-conditioned building or vehicle.
So what’s the deal with the crazy weather?
The experts blame it on the jet stream across the eastern United States, which has “been unusually far to the south for this time of year, with a large ridge in the western U.S. and a relatively deep trough in the eastern U.S., which has allowed abnormally cool Canadian air to sink southward, mixing with seasonally warm, humid air south of the jet stream.”
It’ll be interesting to see how this year’s crops turn out.