So far, winter of 2014 has been the season of the polar vortex. This has sent the weather topsy-turvy. While Tennessee and other parts of the South are experiencing incredible lows, Alaska is having a warm spell. Something's off when -- as I now write -- Anchorage is at 40 degrees while Nashville is at 17 degrees.
Well, if there's one thing you can say about Tennessee weather, it's always unpredictable and exciting. During our winters, one day will be rainy and cool; the next, cold and dry, and the next, as balmy as spring.
The National Weather Service posts records for local weather going back to 1871. According to overall Tennessee records, the highest recorded temperature was a Death-Valley-like 113. This was in Perryville on August 9, 1930. Whew! Just reading this makes me crave sweet tea!
The lowest temperature was -32 (Brrrrrrrr!) in Mountain City on December 30, 1917. I suppose I'll have to be ok with our current temps, which have slid down to single digits. At least that's a plus and not a minus sign in front of them.
Does it seem like warm days are few and far between this winter? Take heart. This isn't the longest string of chilly days, at least not so far. In fact, the most consecutive days that the state has gone with maximum temperatures below 60 degrees was from November 12, 1872 to January 13, 1873.
We in Tennessee are used to long, long summers that go right into October. Did you know, though, that the earliest measurable snowfall occurred on October 30, 1925. On that day before Halloween, at least one place in Tennessee had one inch of snow.
On the other end of the cold season, the latest spring freeze was April 25, 1910. This is almost three weeks after our average last freeze, which is April 6th. The safe planting date in much of Tennessee is considered to be April 15. Some springs, I rush my flowers into the ground a little early. The statistics would indicate that I should use more caution.
Here's a fact that boggles my mind: There have been a few spells persistently cold enough to freeze the Cumberland River. The last one occurred from January 25-29 of 1940.