published Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

Temperature rises to record, but cooler days are on the way

With sweat dripping from his nose, Quincy Simon takes a break from constructing a rock retaining wall on Missionary Ridge in 84 degree heat Tuesday. Simon works for Signal Mountain Nursery, which was contracted to construct the wall.
With sweat dripping from his nose, Quincy Simon takes a break from constructing a rock retaining wall on Missionary Ridge in 84 degree heat Tuesday. Simon works for Signal Mountain Nursery, which was contracted to construct the wall.
Photo by Doug Strickland.
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Monday's 88 degrees tied a 1940 record high for an April 2 spring day in Chattanooga.

And Tuesday was close with 87 degrees. The record for April 3 remains at 89 in 1999.

"If it's this bad now, what's it going to be like in summer?" quipped Quincy Simon, shortly after the Signal Mountain Nursery worker finished a day of building a retaining wall on Missionary Ridge.

But try this for a temperature pendulum swing: Just 20 years ago Tuesday, the day's all-time record low was set at 25.

"That's the extremes. That's why they're records," said Derek Eisentrout, a meteorologist for the Morristown, Tenn., office of the National Weather Service.

The normal high and low for early April days are 69 and 45.

Kellie Aaron and her family were making the most of the breezy warm Tuesday with a fishing expedition to the docks of Chickamauga Marina.

The Aaron girls -- 7-year-old Abbie and 3-year-old Becca -- got fishing poles for Christmas, and the day was their first angling experience.

"They loved it, but they wouldn't put the worm on the hook," their mother said. "But it was perfect getting-out weather."

Enjoy it while you can, warned Paul Barys, chief meteorologist for WRCB-TV3.

Thunderstorms and perhaps an inch of rain Wednesday and Thursday will usher in some cold reminders.

"Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday -- we'll have lows in the 40s. And, in some of the outlying areas, it could get below that," Barys said.

Then he uttered the "F" word:

"Knoxville and north might see some frost."

Barys said the warm spring extremes are nationwide happening this year.

"March for Tennessee [overall] was record warm -- one of the warmest we've ever seen. In fact a lot of the U.S. had warmer than normal temperatures. But the rest of the world was cooler. In fact it was very cool."

Meghan Evans, meteorologist for AccuWeather.com, in mid-March had tallied 5,618 record highs in the U.S. between Jan. 1 and March 12.

"In comparison, Jan. 1-March 31, 2011, there were only 2,800 record highs recorded," she said in a prepared statement.

Trends are one thing, but the law of averages is another, so just remember this about the "F" words.

According to the National Weather Service, the "average last freeze" in Chattanooga is April 5, and the "average last frost" is April 19.

That leaves plenty more room for records.

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about Pam Sohn...

Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...

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