NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – With two back-to-back heat waves and little rain in sight, Middle Tennessee may be edging closer to drought. Currently, 13.7% of Tennessee is abnormally dry, and no substantial rain is in the forecast this week.
Sam Shamburger, Lead Forecaster at the National Weather Service Office in Nashville, says it will take a pattern shift to get Middle Tennessee out of these hot and dry conditions. “There’s this really persistent upper-level ridge of high pressure over the southern US. And that’s just going to keep the heat around, if not right over us, pretty close by, so not looking for any big rain chances until maybe the end of the month. So we’ll have to see a really big pattern change occur before we get out of this hot, dry pattern.”
If rain doesn’t move in, parts of Middle Tennessee may enter into Moderate Drought by July according to Shamburger, “Moderate droughts when we see prolonged dry conditions, we’re really below normal on rainfall, the soil moisture is really low. And we’re just experiencing severe crop issues, severe agricultural issues, or even problems with the low water supply or low water in the rivers and lakes and that kind of thing. So when we see moderate drought conditions, we’re starting to get into some pretty substantial issues.”
A hot and dry weather pattern also brings fire concerns ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. “The main concern we have right now is July 4 is coming up and people are starting to launch fireworks,” said Shamburger. “Since it is getting drier, and it’s staying so hot, there is the risk for some of those fireworks to start some grass fires or brush fires out there. So we just asked people to use extra caution if they’re outdoors launching fireworks as they could cause some fires to quickly grow and spread and these abnormally dry and hot conditions.”
One thing that is in Middle Tennessee’s favor right now is that rainfall has been above-normal for the entire year. Soil moisture levels remain healthy and water levels are not significantly impacted by the dry conditions currently. However, a few more weeks of little to no rain will cause problems.
“We are actually quite a bit above normal for rainfall for the year. So Nashville is over three inches above normal for rainfall so far this year. Like I said, we’ve still got quite a bit of water in the ground. And if it can start to dry out this week, and if we don’t get any rain next week, especially, then it’s really gonna start to lower that soil moisture, and we’re gonna start to see drought conditions.”