Middle Tennessee is on the verge of a drought, an official at the National Weather Service said.
“I think most, if not all of Middle Tennessee will be in a severe drought by the end of the this week,” said Bobby Boyd, a meteorologist with the Nashville office of the NWS.
In a severe drought, crop and pasture losses are likely and water supplies can become compromised.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, southeast Rutherford County is in a moderate drought with the northwestern portion – including Murfreesboro, Smyrna and La Vergne – classified as abnormally dry.
The dry conditions prompted the City of Murfreesboro to institute a burn ban earlier this week.
“Due to the extreme weather conditions we are experiencing in Middle Tennessee, it has become dangerous to consider burning outdoors at this time,” Department Fire Marshal Ken Honeycutt said Monday. “That is why we are placing a ban on burning in the city of Murfreesboro and will notify the public when the ban has been lifted.”
But it doesn’t look like it will be lifted anytime soon with temperatures predicted to top 100 degrees by the end of the week and no significant rain on the horizon.
This hot summer is piled on top of dry conditions that have persisted all year.
“The driest January through June on record was back in 1941 when 10.41 inches of rain fell. So far this year we have measured 18.18 inches, which currently ranks as the 13th driest January through June on record,” Boyd said. Murfreesboro’s rain bucket has recorded 18.24 inches for the year.
And the mid-state is working on a dry June with only 0.26 inches of rain recorded in Nashville, which is second only to June 1936, which recorded only 0.21 inches. Murfreesboro has faired slightly better getting 1.52 inches of rain in June.
The hot and dry conditions have been worsened by an upper-level high-pressure area that has lingered over Tennessee for much of June. The high-pressure area dries out and warms the air, which can build into a drought.
Triple digit temperatures expected to hit the mid-state today and Friday.
“The high at Nashville on Thursday is expected to be 100 degrees, which is just four degrees short of the record of 104 degrees set back in 1952,” Boyd said.
The last time Middle Tennessee saw conditions like this was in 2007, when the dog days of summer became an oven and crops wilted in the fields.
August 2007 gave us 12 days with highs of more than 100 degrees, with seven record-breaking or tying highs, along with 28 straight days of high temperatures in the 90s.
If things don’t improve soon, the mid-state could bee looking at another scorching summer.
“There is no relief in sight through the end of the June. We may see some scattered storms in July, but all in all, July is forecast to be hot and dry as well as the remainder of the summer months,” Boyd said.